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MORE LIES BORNE OUT BY FACTS, IF NOT THE TRUTH

The New York Times Disingenuous Obituary of Michael Hastings & Their Whitewash of Gen. Stanley McChrystals Role in LeAffair Rolling Stan & The Pat Tillman Story
Guy Montag -- www.feralfirefighter.blogspot.com June 23, 2013 [DRAFT Version 4.2; Updated April 20, 2014]

(January 2012)

Michael Hastings in Afghanistan (2010)

(January 2013)

Men like [Gen. Stanley] McChrystal told themselves they operated within a strict code of honor ... And this is where I saw the flaw. How could they, at the same time, be involved in cover-ups with [Pat] Tillman, with [JSOC] torture, with endless allegations of reckless civilian [e.g. Gardez] killings? On April 8, 2011 the Defense Department [Rolling Stone] investigation into McChrystal and his staff is completed. The investigation reads comically It [and NYTs reporter Thom Shankers article] is the last whitewash of McChrystals military career. Pentagon officials would privately tell journalists that the intent of the investigation wasnt even to find wrongdoing; it was to damage my credibility. -- Michael Hastings, The Operators ... When a journalist dies, how can you tell if they've had a career that's upheld the proudest journalistic traditions of challenging the powerful and fearlessly exposing the truth? The New York Times will attempt to piss on that career in the journalist's obituary. -- Jim Naureckas, FAIR (June 20, 2013) I was shocked and saddened to read a blatant mischaracterization of my late husband Michael Hastingss Rolling Stone story in his obituary [which] questioned the accuracy of the article If a reporter at the Times actually would read and properly analyze the Pentagon report, they would find exactly the opposite. I trust youll make these corrections before you print tomorrows paper. -- Elise Jordan , email to NYT (June 18, 2013) the administrations position on the matter was a cover-up [it] would become the governments official pronouncement And all the while they secretly whispered to the media And the media gave them their forum, always ascertaining that their allegations were borne out by facts, if not the truth. --- Senator James Webb, Something to Die For (1991)

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page #:

Foreword (& List of Updates) What Burns Faster, Memories or Flames?


What Burns Faster, Memories or Flames? The Memories Never Go Away I Didnt Think I Could Love Again

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12 13 15

Remembering Michael Hastings -- 1980 - 2013 RIP


Shit Michael Hastings is Gone Fearless A Dick To Those In Power Forever Remembered as a Truth-Teller A Virus in The Body of Their Little Club Definitely Not Some Military Hater The New York Times Will Attempt to Piss on That Career Conspiracy Theories Have Flowered on the Web Flew Too High and Came Down with a Crash The Operators His Legacy Will Outlast Theirs What Would Hastings Do?

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17 18 19 20 22 25 26 27 28 31

LeAffair Rolling Stan


Regardless of How I Judged the Story for Fairness or Accuracy Responsibility Was Mine You Keep Your Mouth Shut Every Day You Want to Scream

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LeAffair Rolling Stan -- Michael Hastings Almost Famous Team America Road Trip 34 45 48 54

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TABLE OF CONTENTS (Continued)


Page #:

More New York Times Lies Borne Out by Facts, If Not the Truth
Executive Summary: More NYTs Lies Borne Out by Facts, If Not the Truth Blatant Mischaracterization of Michael Hastings NYTs Obituary Its Not The Times that is Questioning the Articles Accuracy Obituary Is Not Factually Inaccurate, As Far As I Can Tell. Hastings Obituary Did Not Capture His Adversarial Spirit

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57 61 63 65 67

Postscript: The New York Times Management Cant Admit They Made a Mistake 68

It is the Last Whitewash of Gen. McChrystals Military Career


2013 Constitution Projects Whitewash of McChrystals JSOC Torture 2011 NYTs Thom Shankers Whitewash of LeAffair Rolling Stan 2010 McChrystals Cover-Up of JSOC Killing of Pregnant Women at Gardez

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71 73 74

2009 NYTs Thom Shankers Whitewash of McChrystals Pat Tillman Cover-Up 76

About the Author ...

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APPENDICES
APPENDIX A: Citation Links to Hastings Obituaries & Tributes APPENDIX B: NYTs Thom Shankers Lies Borne Out by Facts, If Not the Truth APPENDIX C: NYTs Thom Shanker -- CNASs Court Stenographer In Residence APPENDIX D: CNASs Andrew Exums Whitewash of Gen. McChrystal
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APPENDICES (continued)
APPENDIX E: Excerpts & from McChrystals My Share of the Task APPENDIX F: Excerpts & Annotations from Michael Hastings The Operators

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APPENDIX G: Carl Prines Glenn Greenwald is Wrong! (Line of Departure, Jan. 7, 2012) 111

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FOREWORD
** DRAFT** Pat Tillman was the NFL football player who joined the U.S. Army in 2002. Pat (along with his brother Kevin) enlisted with the Army Rangers, did a tour in Iraq in 2003, and the following year was killed by friendly-fire in Afghanistan on April 22, 2004. However, instead of telling his family the truth about his death, Gen. Stanley McChrystal supervised the Armys cover-up of his friendly-fire death and approved his fraudulent Silver Star recommendation package. Five weeks later, with the Rangers returning home, the Army finally had to tell the Tillman family his death was fratricide. Over the next three years, a series of investigations were conducted by the Army and Department of Defense. However, these investigations were whitewashed McChrystal and others involved in the cover-up. In February 2008, I was pulled into the Tillman story after Mary Tillman (his mother) called me on the phone. Her call motivated me to write Senator James Webb to ask for his help with her battle for the truth. But, in May 2009 after President Obama nominated Gen. McChrystal to command the Afghan War, I finally realized Senator Webb had instead helped the Democratic Congress whitewash Gen. McChrystals key role in the cover-up of Pat Tillmans friendly-fire death. I had stumbled upon what Ive called The [Untold] Tillman Story. The mainstream media has portrayed Pat Tillmans legacy as an inspiring example of patriotic sacrifice. Instead, I believe we should remember Pats legacy as a cautionary tale of secrets, lies, and death, not as a patriotic fable. The Tillman story is a metaphor for the betrayal of all the patriotic young Americans whose lives have been wasted in the so-called Global War on Terror of the past decade. ... The watchdog lapdog Press largely ignored (except for the sports writers) the Tillman story. Or worse yet, in 2009 I had a disillusioning personal experience with New York Times Pentagon reporter stenographer Thom Shanker (who exonerated McChrystal of all wrong doing (Michael Hastings mentioned his own unpleasant experience with Shanker in the chapter The Media-Military-Industrial Complex in his book The Operators). In addition, Ive written how Washington Post editor Bob Woodward and former Ranger officer [now Dr.] Andrew Exum, a Senior Fellow at the Washington think tank Center for a New American Security (CNAS), also contributed to the Gen. McChrystals whitewash. I believe two Rolling Stone reporters have published the Alpha & Omega accounts of our countrys wars in Iraq & Afghanistan. Evan Wrights Generation Kill [both the book and HBO series are fantastic] is the Alpha; Evan Wright chronicled the beginning of the Iraq War (with
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LT Nathaniel Fick, who was CNASs CEO) with his account of his 2003 road-trip with a Marine Recon company that spearheaded the 2003 Iraq invasion. And, of course, Michael Hastings book The Operators is the Omega; Hastings describes the beginning of the end of the Afghan War with his account of his 2010 road-trip with Gen. McChrystal and his staff across Europe & Afghanistan. In his book The Operators, Michael Hastings tells two stories that are interwoven together. First, he describes his April 2010 month-long road trip with Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his staff across Europe & Afghanistan. Second, Hastings describes the politics behind President Obamas Afghan War surge and his experience as an embedded reporter on the ground in Afghanistan with US troops. Hastings portrayed McChrystal as the face of the Afghan War and used McChrystal as the hook upon which to hang his larger Afghan War narrative. Similarly, in my post Something to Die For Ive portrayed McChrystal as the face of the Tillman cover-up and used Hastings book as the hook upon which to hang my narrative of my untold Tillman story. What a country such as this when you find journalism with more integrity & honesty coming from Rolling Stone magazine reporters such as Matt Tabbi or Michael Hastings than from reporters from the big papers such as The New York Times. Perhaps, thats simply to be expected from our corrupt system. ... In March 2012, after I finished reading The Operators, I kicked myself for not having thought of trying to contact Michael Hastings sometime during the past couple of years (I had forgotten he was writing a book) and wrote my post Something to Die For. Michael emailed back to thank me for my work in August 2012. Just after Christmas 2012, I sent Michael a rough draft of my post Never Shall I Fail My Comrades that documented McChrystals command of JSOC torture. He emailed back, thanking me for sending him a copy and gave me his phone numbers. On Memorial Day weekend, I finally finished my final version of an extensively revised post that thoroughly debunked McChrystals BS memoir. But, I put off emailing/calling Hastings until after I read his new e-book (Panic 2012) and returned from vacation on June 14th. After his death, I regret I never called him when I had the chance. ... Ill miss Michaels honest, no BS reporting that is sadly lacking among the stenographic mainstream press. A few days ago, The American Conservative reporter Kelly Vahlos ended her eulogy, Michael Hastings, Truthteller, Dead at 33, with:
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Hastings was lambasted by the establishment hive for supposedly breaking the rules, which meant he did his job I believe his book [The Operators] is one of the few must reads to come out of the war reportage in that it rankled the powerful while keeping faith with the people, and thats real journalism. That is why he became a correspondent and why he will be forever remembered as a truth teller. To say he will be missed would be a gross understatement. We are losing so much. Last year, Vahlos also wrote a touching tribute (Carl Prines Line of Departure) to another iconoclastic blogger/reporter whos been sidelined by disabling migraines he got from IEDs in Anbar. She wrote that Carl Prine: is one of the good guys, a veteran who obviously loves the military for what it could be and loathes it for what it has been used for Hes not been right about absolutely everything and sometimes I think he could go easier on other writers [a reference to Michael Hastings], especially when they have their hearts and heads in the right place. But hes always consistent when it counts in his loyalty to the rank and file and exposing the corruption of power. And that makes him tops with me because there arent a lot of veteran-journalist-critics with his talent willing to write the things he does [One of Carls last columns, McChrystal Clear was a caustic review of Gen. Stanley McChrystals road show; for an archived copy see the post Never Shall I Fail My Comrades at the Feral Firefighter blog]. Finally, last year Kelly Vahlos ended her review (Michael Hastings vs. Team America) of The Operators on a melancholy note: The predominant feeling is not outrage, nor gleeful satisfaction in seeing everything one suspects about this rotten war confirmed in tawdry black and white detail and in the rise and fall of one of the most celebrated generals in a generation. The overwhelming feeling is, well, sadness. sadly familiar: a million film plots of mortal men who flew too high and came down with a crash. The rest is just plain sad. As is Michael Hastings untimely death in a fiery car crash. as was the 2007 death of his first fiance, Andi Parhamovich, who was killed when her car was set on fire in an ambush in Baghdad (see his 2008 book I Lost My Love in Baghdad). My condolences to his widow Elise Jordan, his family, friends, and colleagues. -- Guy Montag, June 22, 2013

Note: This is the latest version of my draft. Revisions/updates will be made periodically. I hope to be finished by the end of August.

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LIST OF UPDATES
Version 1.1 (July 1, 2013): Added What Burns Faster? Flames or Memories Andi tribute, Michael Hastings tribute pages, added updated comment More Lies Borne Out by Facts, If Not the Truth, added outline of chapters with more detail, added About the Author, cleaned up excerpts in Appendices, added Conspiracy theory links.

Version 2.1 (July 4, 2013): Revised appendices & Thom Shanker chapter, added JSOC Gardez killing notes, added tribute quotes, revised table of contents.

Version 2.2 (July 5, 2013): Added Col. Dan Davis tribute, moved Andi & MH tribute to body. Version 2.2 (July 12, 2013): Added link to CNN video with Michael & Elise, updated What is Faster, Memories or Flame?, added new links to conspiracy theory pieces, added more MH Tribute Links in Appendix A, added new title pages and revised front title page, added Gardez killing links, and added Constitution Projects whitewash of McChrystals command of JSOC torture.

Version 2.3 (July 20, 2013): Added quotes from Tim Dickinson 8-01-13 Rolling Stone tribute, added links to new Michael Krikorian post about new crash video, and Chris Hedges quotes.

Version 2.4 (August 4, 2013): Added speculation about Nate Ficks Endgame company, added new tribute quotes from Barrett Brown, Ana Marie Cox, Glenn Greenwald; added transcript of McChrystals BS about RS affair at Aspen Institute, added Krikorians new crash video, added new introductory chapter LeAffair Rolling Stan with three sections, added some notes for new chapter Michael Hastings Fiery Car Crash Death: Accident or Assassination? (and more links & pictures about MHs car crash).

Version 2.5 (August 11, 2013): Added tributes from: Peter Goldman & Elise Jordan; added The Memories Never Go Away tribute page & Elise Jordan tribute page; added material from Elise Jordans Piers Morgan interview; added more car crash links.

Version 2.6 (August 15, 2013): Organized MH crash links; added notes to draft sections of Michael Hastings Fiery Car Crash Death: Accident or Assassination?; Added Elise Jordan Ron Paul interview link.

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... Version 3.0 (August 25, 2013): Reorganized TOC; put MH crash links at end of each section; added notes & links for crash theory sections; added notes and links to MH LAPD autopsy news stories etc; edited content already in conspiracy theory myth sections; Version 3.1 (August 28, 2013): Added notes to The Character Assassination of Michael Hastings section; comment on LA Weekly profile and Jeremy Scahills evening spent with Hastings a few days before his death. Version 3.2 (September 3, 2013): Added new title pages; finished draft of The Character Assassination of Michael Hastings and Michael Hastings Fiery Car Crash Death: Accident or Assassination?; added Appendix H & I on LAPD Detective Interview with Michael Hastings Brother and Notes from Michael Hastings Dangerous Mind ... Version 4.0 (September 11, 2013): MOVED THE CHAPTERS: The Character Assassination of Michael Hastings and Michael Hastings Fiery Car Crash Death: Accident or Assassination? and placed INTO A NEW BLOG POST What Burns Faster, Memories or Flames? (along with the associated Appendices). Version 4.1 (October 30, 2013): Added revised Hastings tribute broken into several sections. ...

Version 4.2 (April 20, 2014): Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates published his memoir in January 2014. He revealed new information on LeAffair Rolling Stan (e.g. that a member of McChrystals staff had leaked the Afghan War assessment and the his private conversation with President Obama about the firing ofMcChrystal). For details, see the April 2014 post Defend Your Integrity.

Version 4.3 (***, 2014):

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TO-DO LIST:
Letter to NYT public editor, twitter to Elise Jordan, Dan Davis, MA, Peter Goldman, etc. Add MH tribute to NFC and STDF Read MH blog online, read Panic 2012 Reply to Branfman on MH Death Page #s update & revision scribd/blog, add search for dirty wars, Scahill, gardez, daniel davis elise Jordan, exum, Finish: LeAffair Rolling Stan with Appendix F material & debunking Finish: Finish: Finish: Finish: Finish: Blatant Mischaracterization of Michael Hastings NYTs Obituary Its Not The Times that is Questioning the Articles Accuracy Obituary Is Not Factually Inaccurate, As Far As I Can Tell. Hastings Obituary Did Not Capture His Adversarial Spirit EJ postscript to NYT stuff

Finish: 2011 NYTs Thom Shankers Whitewash of LeAffair Rolling Stan Finish: 2010 McChrystals Staff Cover-Up of JSOC Gardez Killing of Pregnant Women

Appendix A: add names & source to links Appendix F: Edit notes from MHs book The Operators (add to LeAffair chapter?) take out Page references & just leave page numbers.

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What Burns Faster, Memories or Flames?

Andi Parhamovich (2006)

Michael Hastings (2012)

Elise Jordan (2011)

I knew hed done a tour in Iraq. I knew that his girlfriend, Andi, had got herself a job with an NGO and had followed him to Baghdad so they could be together. I knew theyd been planning their formal engagement when Iraqi insurgents blew up a car shed been riding in, ending her [Andi Parhamovichs] lifeand Michaels dreamsin a tangle of metal and flame. I knew hed written a book about the war and its terrible cost to him. --Peter Goldman (Newsweek Memories, Remembering Michael Hastings) Andis death was a brutal lesson, and I understood war on a level I wish I didnt. There was no good excuse for me to be back in Afghanistan or Iraq, except I told myself it was my job But maybe that wasnt entirely honest. Was part of me looking to get killed, too? To even the scales, neatly tie up my love for her, to complete the narrative? Two lovers, both dead. How tragic. Maybe there was some part of me that didnt want to die just yet, wanting to say, Fuck you war, you cant destroy me. Im going to win this, on my own terms. The memories never go away. The war left me with memories and grief and anger and a struggle to find hope, to find reasons to go on. We lose our love, and it hurts to find it again. I think we can only ask ourselves, what else really matters? -- Michael Hastings, from his June 17, 2009 Afterword to I Lost My Love In Baghdad (2010) ... I didnt think I could love again. I feel very blessed and fortunate that Elise [Jordan] would have me. The fact that she was able to get past thatI feel pretty lucky. --- Michael Hastings, CNN Reliable Sources (2012)

"I was blessed to have the time with him that I had. So I feel very lucky for that, and [I am] taking it day by day. my gut [feeling] here is that it was just a really tragic accident and I'm unlucky and the world was very unlucky." -- Elise Jordan, Piers Morgan Live (2012)

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What Burns Faster, Memories or Flames?

Michael Hastings fiancee Andi Parhamovich, June 16, 1978 January 17, 2007 RIP

A woman I loved [Andi Parhamovich] was killed in Baghdad in January 2007 al-Qaeda in Iraq took credit for it The memorial service with me crying over an empty coffin. -- Michael Hastings, The Operators (2012) ... I find her personal writings and her diary I find a note that says: career, death card. Another, dated January 12, says that she and I will take the journey home together. The men cannot get the doors open. They cannot get into the car The grenade doesnt make a sound when it is dropped The explosion. In less than a second, the gas tank will catch fire. She sees her life. It all comes at once. There is more noise; there is a loud noise. What is faster, sound or memories? The flames are hot. It is so hot now. What burns faster, memories or flames? She sees what happens. Her father holding a picture of her, inconsolable. She sees her mother shaking softly in church, looking at her face, framed in a picture. She watches her fiance writing with tears in his eyes. It is almost over now. She sees the rest of her life. She sees the ring. She sees a pure white wedding dress and an aisle. She sees her parents and brothers and sisters and friends smiling proudly. She sees the children and the house. She sees the reunions in Ohio; she feels the warmth and hears the laughter and feels the love for her. The noise continues, but she is gone. -- Michael Hastings, I Lost My Love In Baghdad (2008)
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The Memories Never Go Away

Peter Goldman, Newsweek editor 1962 to 2008

Michael Hastings in Afghanistan (2010?)

He was just 27 when he and I first met in the summer of 07 over a getting-to-know-you lunch near the old Newsweek offices on 57th Street. Hed been assigned to the reporting team for what turned out to be the last presidential election project. I knew hed done a tour in Iraq. I knew that his girlfriend, Andi, had got herself a job with an NGO and had followed him to Baghdad so they could be together. I knew theyd been planning their formal engagement when Iraqi insurgents blew up a car shed been riding in, ending her [Andi Parhamovichs] lifeand Michaels dreamsin a tangle of metal and flame. I knew hed written a book about the war and its terrible cost to him. So I knew the back-story, but I didnt know Michael until hed slid into a seat across the table, and I first looked into his eyes. They were gray and red-rimmed; they were wary, they were intense, they were haunted, they were ineffably sad even when he laughed. But those eyes told me hed seen more pain, more blood, more madness in his 27 years than I had in my 74. Id started on a glass of wine, and asked him if hed like a drink. He said no. As he would tell me much later, hed had a wild-child period in his late teens, culminating in a night in jail and an aborted five-day enlistment in the Marines. It was a place in his life he didnt want to revisit, except perhaps to write about it one day, and hed been sober ever since. And we began what would be a long-running conversation about our shared experience of loss. The particulars were as asymmetrical as our ages. My wife, Helen Dudar, was in her seventies when she died; Michaels fiance-to-be, Andi Parhamovich, was in her twenties. Helen and I had been together for 42 years; Andi and Michael were only just getting started. Id had five years to tame the pain, to reduce it to a dull background ache thats still with me; Michael had had maybe six months. I had begun healing; he was still walking wounded. But grief was our first real patch of common ground, a shared place in the half-century generation gap between us. I asked him casually how he was doing. OK, he said, but his eyes flooded with tears. -- Peter Goldman, Newsweek Memories

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After the [2008] primaries I quit my job at Newsweek. I had loved my time at Newsweek, for the most part. But after writing this book, I wanted to keep writing in my own voice. I no longer cared as much about playing the career game, playing it safe, and climbing the corporate ladder. Life was too short to write things that I didnt fully believe in. On June 16, 2007, Andis birthday, I traveled to Paris with her family and spread her ashes on the Seine. The romanticism and excitement that had brought me to Baghdad were gone. Andi getting killed wasnt in the script, and its never what the authors have in mind Andis death was a brutal lesson, and I understood war on a level I wish I didnt. Id spent most of the time since she was killed trying to make sense of it. Writing this book was a way for me to do that. It was write or die. I needed to make sure that Andi would not be forgotten; that her death wouldnt be an uptick in statistics, another number in the more than 150,000 Iraqis and 4,500 Americans dead. There was no good excuse for me to be back in Afghanistan or Iraq, except I told myself it was my job But maybe that wasnt entirely honest. Was part of me looking to get killed, too? To even the scales, neatly tie up my love for her, to complete the narrative? Two lovers, both dead. How tragic. Maybe there was some part of me that didnt want to die just yet, wanting to say, Fuck you war, you cant destroy me. Im going to win this, on my own terms. A delusion, of course, because war always wins.1 The war has affected my family in other ways. It left my younger brother, Jeff, with a bronze star. He served a full fifteen-month tour. Three of his close friends werent so fortunate. The war left Andis family without a daughter and sister. You know, Andre [Andis father] told me, you could have named the book We Lost Our Love in Baghdad. By the time you read this [2010], Andi will have been dead three years. Shell have lived with me as a memory twice as long as our relationship. The memories never go away. The war left me with memories and grief and anger and a struggle to find hope, to find reasons to go on. We lose our love, and it hurts to find it again. I think we can only ask ourselves, what else really matters? -- Michael Hastings, from his June 17, 20092 Afterword to I Lost My Love In Baghdad (2010)

See also his Huffington Post piece, The Hurt Locker, and What it Means to be Addicted to War, (March 4, 2010): The Hurt Locker, on the other hand, doesn't take war addiction to its logical, unambiguous, conclusion. That is, death. Addictions destroy, junkies usually die, and the war always wins.
2

Andis birthday was on June 16 . Hastings wrote his Afterword on June 17 . He died in a car crash on the night th th of June 17 (4:20 AM on June 18 ). Connection or coincidence?

th

th

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I Didnt Think I Could Love Again

Michael Hastings was married to Elise Jordan on May 21, 2011

I didnt think I could love again. I feel very blessed and fortunate that Elise [Jordan] would have me. The fact that she was able to get past thatI feel pretty lucky. --- Michael Hastings, CNN Reliable Sources (2012) ... Hed found a new love, Elise Jordan; just over two years ago, they were married. His future was bright and getting brighter. When you get old, the bad-news phone calls are usually about your rough contemporaries Calls like that hurt but rarely shock, or even surprise; their impact is cushioned by your understanding of their inevitability. called that night with the bad news, and the bright future all of us pictured for Michael faded straight to black. --Peter Goldman, Newsweek Memories Hastings is survived by his widow, Elise Jordan, a former speechwriter for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Their unlikely romance blossomed in the weeks that Hastings was writing his McChrystal piece from Afghanistan [Spring 2010]. Jordan was on assignment there too profiling female Marines for Marie Claire. They were engaged within six months. Im so glad we didnt waste time, she says. Jordan recalls Hastings at his happiness in their first year of marriage, holed up in their rented lake home in Milton and pulling near-all-nighters polishing the manuscript of The Operators. --Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone (August 1, 2013) ... "I was blessed to have the time with him that I had. So I feel very lucky for that, and [I am] taking it day by day. Right now the LAPD still has an active investigation. I dont have anything to add; my gut [feeling] here is that it was just a really tragic accident and I'm unlucky and the world was very unlucky." -- Elise Jordan, Piers Morgan Live (August 5, 2013)
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REMEMBERING MICHAEL HASTINGS 1980 2013 RIP

(cherispeak.wordpress.com)

That's the kind of thing that people always say when a person dies, especially when they die before their time. They say, "He/she was the best of us," and you don't know whether to believe it. Believe it Michael Hastings was the best of us; that's why so many of the best of the rest are devastated today. -- Joe Macare, Truthout) Michael Hastings was the type of national security reporter I didn't have the guts to be A dick to those in power. Fearless. Someone who didn't care what others thought of him. He was a rule-breaker. He didn't follow tradition, or customs, or habit. He was not deferential. He found the relationship between war reporters and the generals and admirals they cover to be much too cozy -- Marc Ambinder, The Week We've lost one of the great young journalists of our generation. He was part I.F. Stone, part Hunter S. Thompson, with the bit of hardened war correspondent thrown in there an epic shit-disturber the antithesis of the caviar correspondent. He just loathed everything that establishment journalism stood for They treated him like a virus in the body of their little club. --Jeremy Scahill (from Micheal Caledrone, Huffington Post) if I had to choose how my colleagues might eulogize me, I would take what people said about Hastings over what they said about [Tim] Russert any day. Tim Russert was widely known to be a great guy. Important people sucked up to him because he had a TV show that other important people watched. Michael Hastings was a great guy and a great reporter. He did not echo; he did not just speak truth to power, he shouted. -- Ana Marie Cox, Washington City Paper Michael was no stranger to trying to make sense of this kind of tragedy nor was he unfamiliar the emptiness felt in the wake of a senseless, random death. he lit a bright lamp for those who wanted to follow his example. exiting, he leaves us all with little more than questions and a blank sheet of paper. Maybe that's challenge to continue to use it to write the truth. I hope we can live up to that. He was a great friend and I will miss him terribly." -- Matt Farwell (from Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone) 16

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Shit Michael Hastings is Gone


Shit. -- Matt Farwell, Twitter June 18, 2013 Just gutted. I was just with @mmhastings.[at June 12th LA premiere of Dirty Wars]. He was full of life and working on major stories. He will be so sorely missed. --Jeremy Scahill (Twitter June 18, 2013) Bastards, liars, and hypocrites everywhere rest a little easier tonight - my, our friend Michael Hastings is gone. -@lucianread 18 June ... He was the archetypal rock star journalist in some ways - funny, irreverent, charismatic, likely to cause trouble - but he didn't act like he deserved to be treated as one. He was no saint, and I'm pretty sure there were times he made editors and colleagues tear their hair out, but he didn't play the big shot. he was so much more approachable and humble than many writers who have achieved much less than he did. Michael the reporter was a thing to behold, and no less Michael the friend. Young journalists flocked to him, and he talked freely with them. He cared about what even his most junior colleagues thought. Hastings was not just nice, he gave so freely of his time and advice and energy that you wondered how he did his own work Michael's generosity wasn't limited to listening: he also talked. Boy, did he talk. A mile a minute and he laughed and smiled as he pointed out the absurdity of his many detractors' arguments. Anyone who ever held a conversation with Michaelor, hell, even those who just saw him on teeveeknew exactly why his pieces caught so many people's attention: he really knew how to tell a story. Michael clearly loved entertaining, in every sense of the word. That's not surprising considering his abiding love for all things Hunter Thompson who was known for both his hilarious Gonzo journalism and gatherings The journalism industry, the country and the world are worse off for losing him. He was a model journalist just as he was a model friendit's impossible to know which he was better at. He will be sorely missed. --Ali Gharib, The Daily Beast

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Fearless A Dick To Those In Power


In the early morning hours of June 18th, Rolling Stone contributing editor Michael Hastings was killed in fiery crash in Los Angeles, Ca. In an instant America lost one of its most talented and fearless reporters, one who was dedicated to telling the truth, regardless of where it led. .. Mike personified, in my view, what a journalist ought to be: challenging of authority when the facts dont square with statements, holding officials accountable for their words and deeds, and showing a willingness to report the truth even when threatened with loss of access; in a word: fearless. -- Col. Daniel L. Davis, The Daily Beast Michael Hastings was really only interested in writing stories someone didnt want him to write often his subjects; occasionally his editor. While there is no template for a great reporter, he was one for reasons that were intrinsic to who he was: ambitious, skeptical of power and conventional wisdom, and incredibly brave. And he was warm and honest in a way that left him many unlikely friends among people youd expect to hate him. Writers of his courage and talent are so rare, and he was taken way too soon. There are few like him. We will miss him terribly. -- Ben Smith, Buzzfeed

"Michael was angry. He was also loving, and thoughtful, and constructive, and brilliant, but he was angry about things that weren't right in the world, and with war, and with loss, and that drove his reporting and it made him fearless. A lot of people in the news business want to seem unafraid. Michael Hastings was actually unafraid." -- Rachel Maddow, MSNBC Michael Hastings was the type of national security reporter I didn't have the guts to be A dick to those in power. Fearless. Someone who didn't care what others thought of him. I do know that he was actively disliked by government higher-ups. He was a rule-breaker. He didn't follow tradition, or customs, or habit. He was not deferential. He found the relationship between war reporters and the generals and admirals they cover to be much too cozy -- Marc Ambinder, The Week He was a pugnacious, ferocious shit-disturber Hastings reveled in rattling the cages of the powerful. He was the antithesis of the caviar-correspondent crowd in Washington He was like a virus in the body of their little elite-club every time he came around themnot only on a political level but on a personal level. He didnt give a fuck what they thought about him. --Jeremy Scahill (from Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone (August 1, 2013)

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Forever Remembered as a Truthteller


Leaving behind his wife Elise and family here in Vermont, Hastings death also leaves a profound vacuum in American journalism and reporting. A journalist-commentator, Hastings re-vitalized national reporting by consistently thumbing his nose at the traditionally unspoken rules of access journalism as he refused to play mass media lap-dog to the powerful figures often subjected to his attentions. Hastings believed in a journalism of honesty. Similar to Howard Zinns famous line of when I see a cop kicking somebody on the ground I dont have to ask myself whose side Im on, Hastings incendiary writing was borne out of a deep anger with authority and the devastation that such authority had wrought upon much of the world. Described as important, truthful, and impactful, Hastings short career leaves an indelible mark on the landscape of contemporary politics, media, and even journalism itself. His devotion lay not with the sources that gave him access, nor with his editors, or any potential stockholders of the publication for which he wrote. First and foremost, his devotion lay with the readers who continue to require the truthfulness, incisiveness, and unfailingly brutal honesty of his reports. Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks commented on Hastings contributions shortly after his passing on June 18th There arent very many legitimate reporters left in the country, Michael Hastings was one of the few. -- Dylan Kelley, Vermont Commons On the one hand, so many of us are deeply mourning the sudden loss of Michael Hastings, the journalist -- and I mean that in every sense of the word Hastings cared zero percent about losing access to, or offending, the powerful and 100 percent about the truth. Contrast that with David Gregory and his ilk of overpaid, overfed Beltway big-shots. They live in a bubble where access to the powerful isn't everything, it's the only thing. They are court couriers, relaying whispered information and placing an abiding trust in the all-powerful whisperers. There really needs to be a word in the English language that describes what they do. I know it is not "journalism." -- Will Bunch, Philly.com Hastings was lambasted by the establishment hive for supposedly breaking the rules, which meant he did his job I believe his book [The Operators] is one of the few must reads to come out of the war reportage in that it rankled the powerful while keeping faith with the people, and thats real journalism. That is why he became a correspondent and To say he will be missed would be a gross understatement. We are losing so much. -- Kelly Vahlos, The American Conservative

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A Virus in the Body of Their Little Club


"It's hard to process the fact Michael is gone. He was a friend of mine but more importantly than that, he was one of the nation's really relentless journalists that who disregarded the rules of access journalism. He was really about defying convention and getting to the truth about being adversarial to those in power It's a tremendous loss to journalism." -- Glenn Greenwald, Piers Morgan Show Michael was just a great old school journalist and he took on the power establishment, which I hope other reporters will do. Weve unfortunately lost that strain of journalism -- otherwise known as journalism [most reporters and 98 percent of the people on TV have become total lapdogs" who are unwilling to hold the government accountable] You go to the White House Correspondents' Dinner: Everybodys buddies. But they werent buddies with Michael Hastings. Youre supposed to make them uncomfortable. No one can argue that they werent made uncomfortable by Michael Hastings." -- Cenk Uygur (from Micheal Caledrone, Huffington Post) Hastings' hallmark as reporter was his refusal to cozy up to power. While other embedded reporters were charmed by McChrystal's bad-boy bravado Hastings was determined to expose the recklessness of a man leading what Hastings believed to be a reckless war. there was no romance to America's misbegotten wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He had felt the horror of war first-hand He had little patience for flacks and spinmeisters and will be remembered for his enthusiastic breaches of the conventions of access journalism. -- Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone We've lost one of the great young journalists of our generation. He was part I.F. Stone, part Hunter S. Thompson, with the bit of hardened war correspondent thrown in there an epic shitdisturber the antithesis of the caviar correspondent. He just loathed everything that establishment journalism stood for that world of professional kvetchers. They treated him like a virus in the body of their little club. --Jeremy Scahill (from Micheal Caledrone, Huffington Post) to write honestly about the watery atmosphere of The Club would mean leaving it, and life in the aquarium is too good to leave. It is that exchange of access for information that keeps the public in the dark about the more tawdry and legally suspect aspects of Washington culture. [Mark] Leibovich concludes the chapter [on unofficial and official Washington's reaction to "The Runaway General"] with the announcement of Hastings' "lifetime banishment" from "The Club." His excommunication serves as tidy evidence of the access-for-self-censorship system.
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Far from being an object lesson in how bucking the rules ends a career, Hastings went on from the McChrystal dust-up to, you know, continue to have a careera good one. I think even a good life! He rebelled against the system and, until his untimely death in a car accident last month, thrived. His success gives lie to the comfortable illusion that they are somehow trapped in the system, that they are fish. if I had to choose how my colleagues might eulogize me, I would take what people said about Hastings over what they said about [Tim] Russert any day. Tim Russert was widely known to be a great guy. Important people sucked up to him because he had a TV show that other important people watched. A TV show whose part in the national conversation was that of an echo chamber. Michael Hastings was a great guy and a great reporter. He did not echo; he did not just speak truth to power, he shouted. In This Town, Leibovich whispers. -- Ana Marie Cox, Washington City Paper

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Definitely Not Some Military Hater


Most people I knew in the military believed Hastings to be a raging liberal who hated the military. Within 10 minutes of meeting him my opinion had changed dramatically. I found him to be a very rational, honest, and respectful guy. He also showed real interest in and concern for the regular combat troop and was definitely not some military hater. -- Col. Daniel L. Davis, The Daily Beast Michael was one of my heroes. He had a fuck you attitude to power. He didnt play the access game that most Beltway reporters play i.e. toe the line and respect the Establishment in exchange for access to the President and key players. He went after the powerful, showing favour to no one. He was angry. His fiancee, Andi Parhamovich, was killed in Iraq in 2007. He knew the real cost of the war: the families left without sons, daughters, fathers, husbands and wives. -- Lyra McKee, muckraker.me According to Lucian Read, the photographer who partnered with Hastings for much of that time, the writer brought an unusual affinity for troops. His brother was in the Army, and Hastings was close in age to most of the soldiers. He tended to adopt a soldier's-eye view of authority. "His skepticism ran a lot deeper," Read says. "He was skeptical of the generals, the plans, the pronouncements, spokespeople all the happy talk." He pitched a story to GQ in which he would "embed" with a general Stanley McChrystal. GQ turned it down, so he took the idea to Rolling Stone. Yet he paid a high price for the story. The military canceled his embeds, making it much harder for him to report from war zones. And Hastings took tremendous flack from his fellow foreign correspondents, who accused him of bringing down McChrystal by breaking the unwritten rules of access. -- Gene Maddaus, LA Weekly

He called me from Paris one late night a couple of years later he wanted to talk about General Stanley McChrystal McChrystal and his crew had got indiscreetly mouthy about their nominal superiors in Obamas Washington. Michael read me some highlights from his notes. The stuff was hot. Could he use it? I asked the obvious questions: Everybody there knew you were a reporter? Yeah. Did anyone say this gathering is off the record? No. Were you recording it? Taking notes? Both. Youre a journalist? Yeah. Then go with it. You have to. Do what the spirit say do. the spirit that drove Michael was a rebel spirit, reckless of risk, careless of the etiquette of suit-and-tie mainstream journalism. Access to Important People was a one-off tactic for him, not a long-term aspiration; power was to be confronted, not courted. McChrystal and his crew doubtless assumed they would be rewarded for having granted Michael the pleasure of their company. They may even have thought they knew him.

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They didnt. He published the piece, leading with the rowdy stuff, following up with his own brilliant critique of Americas military adventure in Afghanistan. McChrystal got summoned to Washington and fired. Michael got a book contract and a Polk award. He was establishing what these days is called a brandhe was the Truth Teller, the no-fear reporter who would go anywhere, however dangerous, and take on anybody, however grand, to get the story. --Peter Goldman, Newsweek Memories Hastings' hallmark as reporter was his refusal to cozy up to power. While other embedded reporters were charmed by McChrystal's bad-boy bravado Hastings was determined to expose the recklessness of a man leading what Hastings believed to be a reckless war. there was no romance to America's misbegotten wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He had felt the horror of war first-hand He had little patience for flacks and spinmeisters and will be remembered for his enthusiastic breaches of the conventions of access journalism. -- Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone

I know a lot of people who love or hate Michael Hastings. There are some who blame him for a certain generals troubles [McChrystal]. My experience was always that if you said or did something that got yourself in trouble, blaming Hastings for reporting it didnt change the fact that you were the one that got yourself in trouble. I liked Hastings immensely as a person and feared him as a reporter. He was relentless and courageous in pursuing the truth. For all his toughness, there was a sweet human quality to Michael Hastings. I called Peter Goldman [Newsweek senior editor], our mutual mentor, when I learned of Michaels death. Peter said, Dont call me his mentorall I ever did was tell him he was good. And he was. a unique and gifted journalist who wrote stories only he could write. -- Joe Trippi, The New Republic You can tell what kind of reporter Michael Hastings was by the kind of reporter who hated him. Hastings never forgot that journalists loyalties are supposed to be with the public and not to the government officials whose actions they coverand that approach distinguished him not only from [NYTs John] Burns but from most of his colleagues one of his golden rules for reporting was, What does everybody know whos on the inside, but no ones willing to say or write. -- Jim Naureckas, FAIR In part, I was motivated to take the risk of publishing my experiences [between what some of our senior military leaders were saying in public [about the Afghan War] and what I knew to be true behind the scenes] because of the courage I saw in Michael Hastings. five days later Michael wrote a very supportive piece in Rolling Stone. ... At a time when I was near persona non grata at the Pentagon and a pariah among many of my colleagues, I was very grateful for that support. But Michael didnt stop with a written piece. Perhaps better than
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most, he knew what I would be going through personally. I grieve his passing on a personal level because he demonstrated with his actions he cared about me at a time when it benefited him nothing. But I also grieve for what America has lost. Though I will forever regret I didnt say this face to face when I had the chance: thank you for your service to this nation, Michael Hastings. May you rest in peace. -- Col. Daniel L. Davis, The Daily Beast Michael's untimely death at 33 deprives Washington journalists and national security professionals of one of their favorite people to sneer at, condescend to, and ignorantly deride. Many journalists I have spoken to over the years have been surprised to hear Michael spent so much time in Iraq often more time than they spent. I heard a lot about Hastings while in Afghanistan. Very little of it was from the soldiers and air force personnel I was with. Nearly all of it was from fellow journalists, and none of it was positive. The amount of hate Michael received from his fellow journalists for that McChrystal piece remains shocking even years later. Those haters will surely move on to the next object of knee-jerk scorn. But I have every confidence that Michael's work, his reach and his legacy will outlast theirs. -- Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian

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The New York Times Will Piss on That Career


When a journalist dies, how can you tell if they've had a career that's upheld the proudest journalistic traditions of challenging the powerful and fearlessly exposing the truth? The New York Times will attempt to piss on that career in the journalist's obituary Michael Hastings is in excellent company when his New York Times obituary (6/19/13) went out of its way to discredit the reporter's best-known story [Rolling Stone profile detailed in his book The Operators]. -- Jim Naureckas, FAIR When the journalist Michael Hastings died mainstream journalism did not afford his memory much respect. His widow, Elise Jordan, complained to The New York Times about the characterization of his lifes work in the papers short, to-the-point obituary. But the factors that made Hastings unlauded by the mainstream were what made him so good at his job. He was resented and distrusted even in death, it seems because of the slashing, pitiless nature of his good and important work. -- Rachel Maddow, from review of Breach of Trust, by Andrew J. Bacevich, New York Times I was shocked and saddened to read a blatant mischaracterization of my late husband Michael Hastingss Rolling Stone story in his obituary [which] questioned the accuracy of the article If a reporter at the Times actually would read and properly analyze the Pentagon report, they would find exactly the opposite. I trust youll make these corrections before you print tomorrows paper. -- from Elise Jordan letter to NYT Editors (Huffington Post, June 19, 2013) ... [Piers Morgan:] The New York Times obituary cast a bit of doubt on Michael Hastings Rolling Stone article. It was absolutely ridiculous and totally classless. If the obituary writer had bothered to go back and read the report, she would see what she put out there actually was factually inaccurate, I still feel very strongly that we should have a retraction, but clearly the New York Times management cant step up to the plate and admit they made a mistake. [Piers Morgan:] You were right, and they were wrong. -- Elise Jordan, Piers Morgan Live (August 5, 2013) ... Note: For more details, see the June 2013 post, MORE LIES BORNE OUT BY FACTS, IF NOT THE TRUTH -- The New York Times Disingenuous Obituary of Michael Hastings & Their Whitewash of Gen. Stanley McChrystals Role in LeAffair Rolling Stan & The Pat Tillman Storyat the Feral Firefighter blog.
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Conspiracy Theories Have Flowered on the Web


"[I] had the opportunity to tell him how much I admired his brave investigative reporting. That's a real loss because there aren't that many investigative reporters and of course what the Obama administration is doing right now ... is trying to shut off their sources." -- Daniel Ellsberg, Piers Morgan Show He came to believe his Mercedes was being tampered with. One night in June, he came to [his neighbor Jordanna] Thigpen's apartment after midnight and urgently asked to borrow her Volvo. He said he was afraid to drive his own car. "He was scared, and he wanted to leave town," she says. The next day Hastings had died early that morning. His car had crashed into a palm tree at 75 mph and exploded in a ball of fire. -- Gene Maddaus, LA Weekly Free Barrett Brown sends its condolences to the friends and family of Michael Hastings [he] was a fearless journalist who questioned power. He was a friend of Barretts and an active member of Project PM, a crowd-sourced research effort to expose government intelligence contractors. We deeply mourn his passingThe loss of Michael Hastings is a tremendous blow to adversarial journalism, but the circumstances surrounding his death leave many questions unanswered. Before his untimely death, Hastings was working on a story about Barrett [Brown], announcing mysteriously to his followers Get ready for your mind to be blown. -- Free Barrett Brown Conspiracy theories have flowered on the Web in the wake of his death. I suppose a Parallax view of events comes all too easily to the citizens of a national-security state. What we know is that Michael was alone behind the wheel of a Mercedes Benz coupe, hurtling through the earlymorning darkness at pedal-to-the-metal speed. The car crossed a median divider, hit a tree, and burst into flames. Our trade lost a great reporter, Elise Jordan lost a husband, and Id lost a young and valued friend. Michael used to call me his mentor, when all I ever did for him was believe in him at a time when that was all he needed. --Peter Goldman, Newsweek Memories Ruling out a priori the possibility of foul play would be as logically fallacious as asserting its presence. what we really need in a case like this is a Mike Hastings. The kind of reporter who would not jump wildly to conclusions, but who would follow up the incident by asking the right people the right questions, including difficult questions. knee-jerk speculation sits quite at odds with Hastings legacy of thorough reporting and serious probing. It does little to honor his important journalistic legacy to apply any less skepticism than Hastings would have to a strange and tragic incident. But skepticism is a different game altogether from wild speculation. -- Natasha Lennard, Stop Speculating About Hastings Death, Salon.com

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Flew Too High and Came Down with a Crash


Hastings lived life at full throttle, raced his demons and, at times, took unnecessary risks. In his memoir, Hastings identifies with those he called war junkies. I know the pull, the intoxication, the life-affirming chemicals released after seeing the abyss and coming back from it, he writes. I survived. I made it. I didnt fuck up. Bliss. In the wake of Hastings death, the Internet has been rife with speculation that dark forces may have been behind his pre-dawn wreck. But those closest to him dismiss the rumors. Hastings younger brother, Jeffwho was awarded a Bronze Star as an infantry officer in Iraq--says he accepts the obvious and, in some ways, more difficult explanation for his brothers death: that Michael simply drove too fast and didnt survive. I dont believe its a conspiracy Theres no part of me thats troubled by that. Hastings is survived by his widow, Elise Jordan, a former speechwriter for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Their unlikely romance blossomed in the weeks that Hastings was writing his McChrystal piece from Afghanistan. He was really brave, Jordan says. He taught me never to take shit from anybody. --Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone [print edition only] (August 1, 2013)

"I have no doubt that he was pursuing a hot story. He always had at least five hot stories going that was Michael. Right now, the LAPD still has an active investigation. I don't really have anything to add. My gut [feeling] here is that it was just a really tragic accident and I'm very unlucky and the world is very unlucky." -- Elise Jordan, Piers Morgan Live (August 5, 2013) LAPD still has an ongoing investigation, so until thats wrapped up, I dont really know what they say is the cause of death (pending now on death certificate). Clearly, it was a horrific car crash, and extremely tragic and awful. I hope there is more explanation and I can reach more peace about what happened, but I unfortunately think it was just one of lifes tragedies. -- Elise Jordan, (Ron Paul Channel, August 17, 2013) In the wake of the L.A. County Coroner's report concluding that journalist Michael Hastings' death was an accident, his family is doing its best to keep his legacy alive. [Michael Hastings' Dangerous Mind: Journalistic Star Was Loved, Feared and Haunted] a lengthy L.A. Weekly story detailing his past drug use and struggles with addiction. "There are plenty of inaccuracies and falsehoods that have been claimed, but it doesn't change anything," [said his brother Jeff Hastings]. "Losing Mike is very painful; gossip and conspiracy theories are not." -- Sara Morrison (The Wrap, August 27, 2013
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The Operators His Legacy Will Outlast Theirs


The reporter, Ive forgotten his name [Michael Hastings]. Wrote a very good book [The Operators], by the way, that people didnt pay enough attention to quite amazing book, lot of good stuff in it. Hastings broke the rules talked about the way they [Gen. Stanley McChrystal & Team America] talked making fun of the President --- Seymour Hersh (Institute for Policy Studies, October 12, 2013) The predominant feeling [after reading Hastings book The Operators] is not outrage, nor gleeful satisfaction in seeing everything one suspects about this rotten war confirmed in tawdry black and white detail and in the rise and fall of one of the most celebrated generals in a generation. The overwhelming feeling is, well, sadness. sadly familiar: a million film plots of mortal men who flew too high and came down with a crash. The rest is just plain sad. -- Kelly Vahlos, Michael Hastings vs. Team America (Antiwar.com, January 2012) The Operators, its a really wonderful book. To me, I think it will be remembered as the best narrative non-fiction of the last decade of wars. It is the story of his embed with Gen. McChrystal, but it is much more than that. It is also about the infighting in Washington and the disconnect between guys on the ground fighting the war and the policymakers who are totally disconnected from it. He loved to always challenge conventional wisdom. There was so much controvers y surrounding the McChrystal [Rolling Stone] article. If people really read the article, it was less about the quotes here and there, than the narrative that he brought together, that was challenging the narrative that COIN was working in Afghanistan. With the publication of the article you can really see how the trajectory of the Afghan war changed. He had such a huge impact. -- Elise Jordan, Piers Morgan Live Michael's untimely death at 33 deprives Washington journalists and national security professionals of one of their favorite people to sneer at, condescend to, and ignorantly deride. Many journalists I have spoken to over the years have been surprised to hear Michael spent so much time in Iraq often more time than they spent. I heard a lot about Hastings while in Afghanistan. Very little of it was from the soldiers and air force personnel I was with. Nearly all of it was from fellow journalists, and none of it was positive. The amount of hate Michael received from his fellow journalists for that McChrystal piece remains shocking even years later. Those haters will surely move on to the next object of knee-jerk scorn. But I have every confidence that Michael's work, his reach and his legacy will outlast theirs. -- Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian
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... BuzzFeed has chosen Gregory Johnsen [the author of The Last Refuge: Yemen, al-Qaeda, and Americas War in Arabia] to be the inaugural 2013 2014 Michael Hastings National Security Reporting Fellow. The Fellowship is a yearlong post focused on national security and challenging institutions of power, the cornerstone of Michaels work. --- Betsy Rothstein, mediabistro.com (October 8, 2013) Gregory Johnsen has already proven himself one of his generations wisest and most original voices on national security. Hes the right writer to carry on Michaels legacy of fiercely intelligent and deeply compelling journalism about how America has shaped and been shaped by more than a decade of war, said -- Ben Smith, Editor-in-Chief BuzzFeed Michael Hastings was an incredibly tenacious journalist, someone who reported fearlessly and always strove to convey what he saw abroad to his readers at home. Im honored and humbled to be named the inaugural Michael Hastings National Security Reporting Fellow for BuzzFeed. -- Gregory Johnson, Inaugural Michael Hastings National Security Scholar Michael believed in honest, courageous reporting on national security and power. He was proud to be a part of BuzzFeed, and Im grateful they will continue Michaels legacy through this fellowship. I look forward to outstanding investigative reporting from Gregory Johnsen, a top-notch writer and thinker with unparalleled expertise in many of the worlds most volatile conflicts -- Elise Jordan, Buzzfeed ... Elise [Jordan], teared up as she accepted a journalism award [lifetime achievement award from the Norman Mailer Center] on behalf of her husband She recalled that Hastings felt a kinship with for the brilliant and troublesome Mailer. When the couple fought, she said, he would point out that in "comparison to Mailer he was a great husband," a reference to a notorious incident in which Mailer stabbed his wife. Hastings was a "dissident, a cynical idealist and a breathtaking writer." -- Elise Jordan (Associated Press, October 18, 2013)

...

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I read The Last Magazine [described as a fast, funny roman clef about a young, eager magazine intern named Michael M. Hastings a novel based on his own life will be released next summer] shortly after Michaels death and found solace in the rush of his trademark candor and insight -- Elise Jordan, Novel by Michael Hastings to Be Published Posthumously (NYT, Oct 3, 2013)

Looking to the future following their Oscar contender 12 Years a Slave, Pitt's label Plan B has laid out an ambitious slate of projects including an adaptation of Michael Hastings' book The Operators -- Charlie Schmidlin, Indiewire (October 3, 2013) ...

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What Would Hastings Do?


He was so warm and effusive and excited was giddy that someone from our tribe had made it on one of those shows [Tonight Show]. Scahill recalled Hastings talking excitedly last week about stories he was working on, including ones about the NSA. Hastings also spoke about the property he wanted to buy in Vermont. Totally full of life, he said. -- Jeremy Scahill, (Huffington Post, June 19, 2013) I have no doubt that he was pursuing a hot story. He always had at least five hot stories going. That was Michael He would have loved to have worked the NSA story. President Obamas massive crackdown on journalists. Investigations on whistleblowers. Climate of fear. It motivated him to tell the truth and challenge authority. Right now the LAPD still has an active investigation. I dont have anything to add, my gut here is that it was just a really tragic accident and I'm unlucky and the world was very unlucky. -- Elise Jordan (Piers Morgan Live, August 5, 2013) ... Usually [dissenting journalists] are on the outside of institutional power, and what this [$250 million new media ventura funded by Ebay founder Pierre Omidyar is really about is] being able to create a very well-funded, powerful, well-fortified institution thats designed not to just tolerate that kind of journalism, but to enable it and protect it, strengthen it and empower it, Greenwald says. The people who were going to select3 [so far, Jeremy Scahill & Laura Poitras] are all going to be people who take the same view of adversarial journalism, that its about holding the most powerful factions accountable, fearlessly, without regard to threats from the government or corporate factions. I think its going to be a very formidable force in shaping how journalism is understood and how its practiced. -- Glenn Greenwald, Democracy Now (Oct 28, 2013) He is on a double mission: to push back in the name of freedom against the post-9/11 surveillance state with its dragnet data trawling, and to reinvigorate journalism through an aggressive and adversarial position to political and corporate power Our style will be to encourage and empower combative journalism that can be a real force against powerful people, he says. We want our journalists to follow their passion. He continued: The reason why journalism is important, why it is protected in the Constitution, is to be one of the institutional checks on abuse of power, and for that you have to keep those in power at arms length, hold them accountable. For Greenwald, American journalism has been defanged by the patriotism compulsion after 9/11 and by the culture of big media corporations. He alludes to David Halberstams speech at Columbia University in 2005: Never, never, never let them intimidate you. Dont let them. -- Roger Cohen, A Journalist With a Mission New York Times (Nov 1, 2013)
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If he was still alive, Id bet that Michael Hastings would have also been invited to join this group.

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... My disbelief at his passing turns to anger. Anger at all the extant journalists who could but never will achieve what Hastings did in his unduly short career, the ones who won't do that because they do not seek to expose the truth about powerful people, instead preferring to actively shore up power, or write equivocal mush, or bash easy targets only. During times of grief, anger turns to bargaining. Here's the deal I'd like cut with any god who will listen, since I know we don't get him back: don't take any more young journalists from us, and we - as individuals and an industry - will do better. All the stooges going on TV to defend the NSA's mass surveillance program because Obama is a Good Guy who Knows Best, all the pundits currently working on their op-eds about how Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald are Not Good Guys and so we can't trust their message - they'll all take a moment to pause and think again. "What Would Hastings Do?" they'll ask themselves. (Here's the answer.)4 I know that won't really happen, but it's a nice thought. Real reporting is the poorer for Michael Hastings' passing, and it was in pretty rough shape already. We have to do better. We owe it to him. -- Joe Macare, What We Owe Michael Hastings, Truthout

Michael was no stranger to trying to make sense of this kind of tragedy nor was he unfamiliar the emptiness felt in the wake of a senseless, random death. After all, he'd already learned about it the only way he ever deemed acceptable for a non hack: first-hand. [death of his first fiance Andi Parhamovich] As a journalist, he specialized in speaking truth to power and laying it all out there. He always sought out the hard stories, pushed for the truth, let it all hang out on the page. he lit a bright lamp for those who wanted to follow his example. exiting, he leaves us all with little more than questions and a blank sheet of paper. Maybe that's challenge to continue to use it to write the truth. I hope we can live up to that. He was a great friend and I will miss him terribly." -- Matt Farwell, Rolling Stone

... I Truly Respect Writers who live their lives with integrity and without compromise. -- Michael Hastings, 2009 True/Slant blog profile

I heartily agree with this statement RT @wilw #IStandWithEdwardSnowden because governments must be held accountable to their citizens. 32

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LEAFFAIR ROLLING STAN

Cover Title of Michael Hastings The Runaway General: OBAMAS GENERAL -- Why Hes Losing the War:

In the summer of 2010, Stanley McChrystal, U.S. Army general and Afghan war commander, reportedly trashed the U.S. civilian military leadership the display of disrespect was striking, but more telling were the details about McChrystals handling of smaller matters. -- Aaron James, Assholes: A Theory (2012) ... Over the past year, journalists had regularly been given intimate access to McChrystal and his staff. A reporter for the NYT a profile that found McChrystals only fault was that he worked so hard Time magazine had put him as runner-up for Person of the Year all told the same story: McChrystal as a modern combination of saint and ninja, a Jedi Knight Special Forces operators had a healthy disrespect for authority; Rolling Stone fit this self-styled image perfectly. They were building Brand McChrystal ballsy, envelope-pushing, risk-taking. It was the natural evolution of a very aggressive media strategy to establish McChrystal as a contender for the greatest general of his generation, on a par with Petraeus. I dont care about the article, McChrystal said, Just put me on the cover. I paused. He was joking, sort of Its between you and Lady Gaga, sir. McChrystal looked at me and smiled. Put me in the heart-shaped bathtub with Lady Gaga, he said. Maybe some rose petals. I just want to get on the cover so I can finally gain my sons respect. (His son was in a band.) I was starting to like them, and they seem to like me. They were cool. They had a reckless, who-givesa-fuck attitude. I was getting inside the bubble This is beginning to sound like fucking Almost Famous. . The movie his one-day story turned into a lengthy road trip on tour with the band. there wasnt always a happy ending if you wrote about people with brutal honestly. -- Michael Hastings, The Operators (2012)

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LeAffair Rolling Stan


[Adapted from Michael Hastings 2012 book The Operators] ADD links to referenced newspaper articles, etc. to chapter [In April 2010, Rear Admiral Gregory Smith had] just gotten involved into a nasty exchange with a popular freelance journalist named Michael Yon [Yon] had just gotten kicked off an embed. Next time military generals talk about poor press performance in Afghanistan, Yon wrote that April, please remember that McChrystal and crew lacked the dexterity to handle a single, unarmed writer How can McChrystal handle the Taliban? Over the past year, journalists had regularly been given intimate access to McChrystal and his staff. A reporter for the New York Times a profile that found McChrystals only fault was that he worked so hard A writer from The Atlantic asked if McChrystal was Afghanistans only hope Time magazine had put him as runner-up for Person of the Year all told the same story: McChrystal as a modern combination of saint and ninja, a Jedi Knight Id seen another side of his personality. Maybe the side Id been shown had been there all along, and no one else had decided to write about it? Wed grown accustomed to seeing the general as a superman and the press rarely challenged this narrative in their coverage. Wed been bombarded with hagiographic profiles and heroic narratives When there were criticisms of generals, it usually came too late Here, I realized, was a chance to tell a different story, to capture what the men running the war actually said and did. Special Forces operators had a healthy disrespect for authority; Rolling Stone fit this self-styled image perfectly. They were building Brand McChrystal ballsy, envelope-pushing, risk-taking. It was the natural evolution of a very aggressive media strategy to establish McChrystal as a contender for the greatest general of his generation, on a par with Petraeus. I dont care about the article, McChrystal said, Just put me on the cover. I paused. He was joking, sort of. I didnt have a clue who was going to be on the cover though. The name Bono flashed through my mind. I reached for something a little more current Its between you and Lady Gaga, sir. McChrystal looked at me and smiled. Put me in the heart-shaped bathtub with Lady Gaga, he said. Maybe some rose petals. I just want to get on the cover so I can finally gain my sons respect. (His son was in a band.) ... Id spent many weeks around the countrys most senior military officials, and Id never heard them talk like this before. It was the kind of banter Id heard on the front lines, but not inside headquarters, where blandness and discretion often trumped colorful language and obscene hand gestures, at least in front of reporters.
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I was starting to like them, and they seem to like me. They were cool. They had a reckless, who-gives-a-fuck attitude. I was getting inside the bubble ...This is beginning to sound like fucking Almost Famous. . The movie [about a young Rolling Stone reporter whose] oneday story turned into a lengthy road trip on tour with the band. there wasnt always a happy ending if you wrote about people with brutal honestly. McChrystals command style represented an unprecedented departure from previous US military history a command made up of elite Special Forces soldiers Generally, theyd been in charge of a few thousand of the most brilliant people in the service, and they were now running an army that numbered in the hundreds of thousands. A drawback: McChrystal and Lamb were used to dealing with the best of the best, high IQs, not the dumbness of the Big Army. The loyalty [of his staff] to McChrystal often ended up with the general getting an inaccurate picture of what was actually taking place. Over the past few weeks, hed been comfortable with allowing almost everything to be out there, transparent and open. Hed never tried to take anything back or personally spin me. Even if his staff thought hed nailed it, McChrystal knew what I had seen That was a raw wound back there. The talk [to an Army platoon in Afghanistan] had been an outright disaster. Israel Arroyo, the soldier whod invited McChrystal down, had been evacuated with another soldier for post-traumatic stress. Mikie Ingram, the soldier hed gone on his wellpublicized patrol with, had been killed. The platoon was borderline mutinous. Yet McChrystal and Duncan were worried that I was going to write that the soldiers didnt understand the war. Why are we here [Afghanistan War]? Spending over a week [April 2010] with McChrystal and his team in Western Europe had caused me, briefly, to rethink my answers. The excitement and the feeling of being on the inside made me give them the benefit of the doubt. Sure, the war had become morally dubious, ridiculously expensive, and would likely fuel anti-American terrorism for years to come but they were such cool guys, and they were nice to me Why not just give them a chance, like a number of my colleagues always did? Their confidence and expertise were persuasive. If they believed in the mission, then why couldnt I? The more time I spent outside the bubble I couldnt shake my own skepticism. No matter how professional or competent or dynamic McChrystal and his team were, the task they had set out for themselves was so obviously doomed. What Tom Hanks said to Private Ryan. He saved his life. He [Dave Silverman] said, Earn it. With your story. Earn it. The vision: McChrystal on the cover of Rolling Stone. How could you not write a 110 percent blowjob profile that just plainly fucking rocked? Earn it. On a personal level, part of me didnt want to disappoint McChrystal and Dave and Casey and
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Flynn and Duncan The month I spent with them was exciting, and Id gotten a privileged view from the inside of a top military command. If I wrote the story I wanted to write, it would be years before I ever had that view again. The access Id gotten was unprecedented. But what do you do with it? Bury the story? Write a puff piece to ensure further access? Or write what actually happened? I knew, too, that McChrystal and his team could play rough with reporters and hadnt hesitated in the past to launch personal smear campaigns against them. Three months earlier [March 2010], Jerome Starkey, a reporter for The Times of London, had broken a story about the killing of two pregnant Afghan women by a Special Forces team [on Feb. 12, 2010]. McChrystals command had tried to cover it up, originally issuing a press release and claiming to CNN that the Taliban had killed the women in an honor killing. That wasnt true and the soldiers even dug bullets out of the bodies of the Afghan women to hide the atrocity. Rather than own up to what had happened, [PR Gurus] Admiral Gregory Smith and Duncan Boothby called up rival outlets and reporters to brief against Starkey saying he wasnt a credible journalist Smith sent out a press release saying his allegations of a cover-up were categorically false; the release also said he incorrectly quoted Admiral Smith. Within days, though, Starkeys reporting was confirmed by a UN investigation, an Afghan investigation, and a story in The New York Times there had been an atrocity, there had been a cover-up, and Smith and ISAD had been lying. No one on McChrystals staff, or anyone in command of the Special Forces unit responsible for the killing, was punished. The draft [of The Runaway General] expressed my conflicting feelings Id liked hanging out with McChrystal and his team, yet I hated the war. Everything Id seen and heard and knew about the war would not reflect well on them they were an unchecked force, steamrolling the civilian leadership, flipping them the giant bird along the way. Not that I didnt think all of their complaints unjustified --- Id probably be pissed if I thought that the civilians who gave the orders didnt actually appear to be committed to the war. On the other hand, McChrystal and other military officials had pushed Obama to get the mission they wanted. The military leadership pushed hard and played dirty to get the war in Afghanistan they wanted. Men like [SAS Commander Graeme] Lamb and McChrystal told themselves they operated within a strict code of honor ... And this is where I saw the flaw. How could they, at the same time, be involved in cover-ups with Tillman, with [JSOC] torture, with endless allegations of reckless civilian [e.g. Gardez] killings? The answer, I believe, was that they considered the loyalty that they felt for one another as the highest measure of integrity. any action to

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complete the mission and protect their pack whether it was leaking to the press or forcing a president down a path he didnt want to take they saw as acceptable. Wed grown accustomed to seeing the general as a superman and the press rarely challenged this narrative in their coverage. Wed been bombarded with hagiographic profiles and heroic narratives When there were criticisms of generals, it usually came too late Here, I realized, was a chance to tell a different story, to capture what the men running the war actually said and did. Duncan [Boothby] was worried about what the story would say either be fun, or end my career. Rolling Stone closed the story. It was set for publication next week [it was leaked on June 22, 2010]. Lady Gaga, not Stan McChrystal, was going to be on the cover. ... I assumed the [Runaway General] story would get some attention in Washington, maybe get in the news for a few hours. But I didnt expect much else. Id been writing about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the past five years. Usually, most news stories and the wars themselves were ignored The real problem wasnt just the content of the story it was who read it. High-ranking figures in Washington, mainly, proving that both shit and publicity rolls downhill. McChrystal had issued an apology. They werent denying itwhich would have been difficult anyway because of the tape recordings and notes I had of the interviews [During my time with General McChrystal, I recorded over twenty hours worth of interviews with him and his staff. I also documented the journey contemporaneously with a half-dozen notebooks, a camera phone, and about seventy pages of single-spaced typed notes.] And they werent personally attacking me yet, either. By apologizing, they had confirmed the validity of the story. I was relieved. Note: On June 23, 2010, just a year after McChrystals May 2009 Senate confirmation, President Obama said he fired McChrystal for inappropriate remarks made by him & his staff to a Rolling Stone reporter. However, it appears other factors were: to show the generals he was the Boss, because McChrystal was losing the war (subtitle of the cover of Rolling Stone) by failing to show progress in Marja, and to punish Gen. McChrystal & Petraeus for promising what they couldnt deliver with his COIN strategy. ... The story had terrified them [the Washington crowd], striking deep-seated fears in the Washington psyche. It demonstrated just how tenuous ones own position could be careers

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could flame out overnight. And the political and media class saw the story as a threat to their schmoozy relationship5 A few of my colleagues in the media eventually got around to attacking Rolling Stone. It started with a story in The Washington Post. The story, citing anonymous sources, claimed that I had violated ground rules.6 This wasnt true and the quotes about me that the anonymous sources gave the Post were total fabrications The anonymous officials [McChrystal staffers] quoted in the critical stories, I would learn, were under investigation for insubordination. The stories didnt mention that. Ironically, I was also criticized for my use of unnamed sourcesin articles citing unnamed sources. It was the beginning of a whisper campaign from McChrystal and his allies that would continue throughout the next year. McChrystals defenders would launch another round of pushback in the press, claiming that my quotes came only from junior staff This wasnt true either: McChrystal7 had got the Biden insults rolling, made fun of Holbrookes email, and told me Eikenberry had betrayed him. Jake and Duncan were McChrystals top civilian advisors; Charlie Flynn was his executive officer; and it would be a stretch to call Lt. Commander Dave Silverman a junior staffer.

Reporter Carl Prine wrote in his column (Greenwald Is Wrong!, Line of Departure - January 7th, 2012): The confluence of celebrity generals and sycophantic DC reporters has served poorly our democracy and contributed to some of the worst journalism on battle in a half century. Too many reporters in and out of DC are stenographers, and they play to their sources instead of working hard on behalf of their readers. This is true not only of many reporters covering defense issues, but also those on every beat at every news outlet in the country. Thats one reason why ESPN did better reporting on the death of Pat Tillman than everyone in DC Mike Fish and the sports guys were outsiders not only to defense reporting but also the failed Beltway nexus of journos and generals, so they had no sacred cows to spare or VIPs to curry. They cared only about the truth.
6

Senior Newsweek editor Peter Goldman wrote (Newsweek Memories, Remembering Michael Hastings: He called me from Paris one late night a couple of years later he wanted to talk about General Stanley McChrystal McChrystal and his crew had got indiscreetly mouthy about their nominal superiors in Obamas Washington. Michael read me some highlights from his notes. The stuff was hot. Could he use it? I asked the obvious questions: Everybody there knew you were a reporter? Yeah. Did anyone say this gathering is off the record? No. Were you recording it? Taking notes? Both. Youre a journalist? Yeah. Then go with it. You have to. Do what the spirit say do.
7

Michael Hastings widow Elise Jordan sent an email to the NYT objecting to their obituary. She wrote, I personally transcribed and have all the tape recordings of Michaels interviews during his time with McChrystal and his staff. I can personally verify that some of the most damning comments were made by McChrystal himself, and many others made by his aides in his presence were greeted with his enthusiastic approval. 38

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I could understand why the government officials would be pissed. I was telling them their whole strategy was a waste of time. But the reaction from a number of journalists on the national security beat seemed twisted They seemed to take my criticism of the military-industrial complex personally. It might as well be called, I thought, the media-military-industrial complex The press had been complicit enablers before the Iraq invasion, failing in their watchdog role, focusing less on truth and accuracy and more on whether the campaign [to sell the war] was succeeding. Strangely I ended up on pretty good terms with a number of military officials. It was the other journalists who covered the military and politics that I clashed with most often. A number of reporters had paid side gigs at defense-industry-funded think tanks,8 essentially getting financial support from the very same people they were supposed to be covering.9
8

I would bet that New York Time Pentagon reporter Thom Shanker was one of the journalists that Michael Hastings clashed with most. As previously mentioned, Thom Shanker has had a very cozy relationship with Gen. McChrystal and his friends at CNAS. Yep. Just found Michaels response to the question: are there individual reporters whom you want to call out publicly for their sort of following the Pentagon line and not doing their job? Yeah. I saw a pretty egregious example with the New York Times Pentagon correspondent [Thom Shanker] who literally just published the Pentagon spokesperson's anonymous quotes when he was reporting on my stories. And he didn't bother to call Rolling Stone for a comment, of course, because, well, he's got the official line from the Pentagon. I would also call out a group of very influential national security reporters who work at most of the major media outlets. And if you look closely at their resumes, they all belong or have been paid by, or have worked for very influential think tanks Center for New American Security [CNAS] is sort of the most egregious example [Robert Greenwald and Reporter Michael Hastings Take on the Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War Machine, Alternet 1/27/12)] Shortly before McChrystals 2009 Senate hearing, Thom Shanker wrote his analysis piece that supposedly exonerated Gen. McChrystal of all wrong-doing in the Tillman cover-up. However, Shanker ignored clear evidence of McChrystal s central hands-on role. [See Lies Borne Out By Facts, If Not the Truth and pp. 94-101, "The [Untold] Tillman Story"] Afterwards, Shanker enjoyed exceptional access to General McChrystal. For example, he wrote: On the day [June 10, 2009] in the summer of 2009 that a Senate vote confirmed General McChrystal and elevated him to his new command and he deployed to Afghanistan, he took two reporters from the New York Times [Tom Shanker & Eric Schmitt] on a tour of his new rear headquarters in a sealed corridor of the Pentagon basement [p.83, Counterstrike] In his book New York Times Pentagon Reporter Thom Shanker wrote, CNAS in Washington allowed each of us [Shanker & co-author NYT reporter Eric Schmitt] to spend 90 days as a writer in residence [Fall 2009] to work on Counterstrike it is a place where many of the sharpest thinkers on national security hang their hat or pass through for coffee or lunch [p.309, Counterstrike] (Wow, can you hear the sucking sound?) It appears Shankers CNAS sabbatical was yet another perk for exonerating McChrystal and for being a loyal stenographer for the Pentagon and the Obama administration. [see Court Stenographer in Residence in "He Who Shall Not Be Fact Checked"] 39

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A number of famous journalists would say they heard these kinds of things all the time, but never reported them. It didnt seem to make a difference that I hadnt violated any agreement with McChrystal. The unwritten rule Id broken was a simple one: You really werent supposed to write honestly about people in power. Especially those the media deemed untouchable. Trash Sarah Palin all you want, but tread carefully when writing about the sacred cows like McChrystal and Petraeus. Youre supposed to keep the myths going. Id fucked up I wasnt to be trusted because I tried to tell the truth. ... On July 13 [2010], I received an email from the Army inspector generals office. The e-mail informed me that the Army had launched an investigation. There was no way I would cooperate with an investigation, particularly if I was being asked to name sources (Even though I wouldnt be breaking any agreement with them by naming them, I felt it was a bad precedent to set). The Department of Defense wasnt satisfied with the Armys investigation... The Army investigation had pointed the finger at the individuals they believed made insubordinate comments. Not coincidentally, the Armys investigation [of the Rolling Stone article] concluded that no one in the Army was at fault. The Armys investigation blamed the Navy (Dave Silverman) and the civilian advisors surrounding McChrystal. In September, the Pentagon decided to launch a second investigation. They would spend eight months looking for answers, when all they really had to do was reread the story. To me, both the investigations seemed absurd. My story had never claimed McChrystal and his staff had violated any laws, yet the press coverage [New York Times] of the investigation made it appear as if the men were all being exonerated.10 Exonerated from what? From looking like jerks? For being illegally, rather than casually, insubordinate?

And guess who hosted the book release party for Counterstrike? CNAS, of course! And Andrew Exum posted an interview with Shanker shortly before the party(Special Abu Muqawama Q&A: Counterstrike!)
9

Reporter Carl Prine wrote in his column (Greenwald Is Wrong!, Line of Departure - January 7th, 2012) that you always know where I stand, especially when it comes to celebrity generals and the stenographic Beltway reporters who churn out their hagiographies. I think that some reporters have been co-opted by their sources. Too many also have accepted paid sinecures or similar enticements from DC nonprofits and that has colored their work, which explains much of my animus against the bearded mediocrity Tom Ricks and his uniquely unthinking brand of think tank journalism.
10

Once again, the NYT reporter Thom Shanker carried water for the powers-that-be: An inquiry by the Defense Department inspector general into a magazine profile has cleared the general of all wrongdoing. [Pentagon Inquiry Into Article Clears McChrystal and Aides , NYT Apr. 18, 2011]. A reprise of Shankers previous exoneration(NYT May 26, 2009), just before his June 2009 Senate confirmation hearing, where his analysis found McChrystal was cleared of wrongdoing in the Pat Tillman case. 40

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The [news] stories missed the bigger picture: the name callingand the later attempts by the Pentagon investigator to rewrite historyrepresented an unapologetic contempt toward the White House. Pentagon officials would privately tell journalists that the intent of the investigation wasnt even to find wrongdoing; it was to damage my credibility. ... On April 8, the Defense Department investigation into McChrystal and his staff is completed. The investigators didnt talk to McChrystal or Rolling Stone. The investigation reads comically11--no one the investigators spoke to admits to saying what they said, but they also dont admit to the quotes not having been said. It also contradicts the findings of the earlier Army investigation. In some instances, we found no witness who acknowledged making or hearing the comments as reported. In other instances, we confirmed that the general substance of the incident at issue occurred, but not in the exact context described in the article, the report states. McChrystal says he doesnt remember hearing the bite me response (though he laughed when he heard it).12 Jake McFerren doesnt admit to saying it. Witnesses deny that McChrystal shared his private interactions with Obama (Though I had witnessed him share the contents of those discussions with his staff, and hed shared them with me as well). Charlie Flynn wouldnt admit to McChrystal having given him the middle finger Dave Silverman wouldnt admit to calling
Michael Hastings said, [Thom Shanker] literally just published the Pentagon spokesperson's anonymous quotes when he was reporting on my stories. And he didn't bother to call Rolling Stone for a comment, of course, because, well, he's got the official line from the Pentagon. [Robert Greenwald and Reporter Michael Hastings Take on the Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War Machine, Alternet 1/27/12)]
11

In an interview with Scott Horton (The Operators; Six Questions for Michael Hastings, Jan. 20, 2012), Michael Hastings said: The multiple Pentagon investigations into the Rolling Stone story were particularly absurd. Of course, the results of these investigations were invariably reported with pro Pentagon spin. Thom Shanker [no surprise!] the New York Timess Pentagon correspondent, didnt even bother calling us for comment before he ran with the Pentagon spokespersons story clearing McChrystal, whatever that meant. (I refer you to the statement Obama made when he fired McChrystalthats why he got fired, not because he explicitly broke any laws. The Pentagons attempt at rewriting this history has been disturbing to observe.) I suggest reading the report of the investigations in full, if you want some comic relief.
12

Michael Hastings widow Elise Jordan sent an email to the NYT objecting to their obituary. She wrote, I personally transcribed and have all the tape recordings of Michaels interviews during his time with McChrystal and his staff. I can personally verify that some of the most damning comments were made by McChrystal himself, and many others made by his aides in his presence were greeted with his enthusiastic approval. 41

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the French fucking gay The report found insufficient evidence that they called themselves Team America. (Though Dave, Casey, Duncan, and a few others on his staff had called themselves that) It [the DoDs & New York Times exoneration] is the last whitewash of McChrystals military career.13 ... Two days after the [Dept. of Defense] report is finished, the White House announces that President Obama appointed McChrystal as an unpaid advisor to military families help to rehabilitate Stanley McChrystals image, appointing him [April 2011] to lead a high-profile initiative [Joining Forces] supporting military families no need to have a potential voice criticizing the administration in the upcoming election14. Mary Tillman, Pat Tillmans mother, is outraged. Its a slap in the face to all soldiers, she says of the choice. 15 He deliberately helped cover up Pats death. And he has never adequately apologized to us. ...

13

Michael Hastings said, Is whitewash one or two words? In my experience, when the DoD investigates itselfespecially when powerful people are involvedthey find they did nothing wrong. Or, they find some low-level asshole to hang out to dry [Scott Hortons, The Operators; Six Questions for Michael Hastings, Jan. 20, 2012].
14

I believed "Joining Forces" was largely a PR campaign to rehabilitate the patriotic image of Michelle (and to kick-start Obamas 2012 re-election campaign with a Parade magazine cover story). As a bonus, President Obama mended fences by appointing Gen. McChrystal to head the advisory board just prior to his being cleared of all wrongdoing" in Le'Affair Rolling Stan.
15

See Jake Tappers ABC News Exclusive: Pat Tillmans Mom Wants General Stanley McChrystal Removed From White House Post (April 13, 2011) and Narda Zacchinos What Stanley McChrystal Did to Pat Tillmans Family (Truthdig.com, April 13, 2011). When asked about Marys remarks, Michelle Obama said were proud to have him [McChrystal] on board and White House Press Secretary Carney said that [President] Obama is very aware of the generals rsum. Later he added, We have enormous respect for the service and sacrifice of Pat Tillman and his family. The circumstances surrounding Pat Tillman's death have been thoroughly investigated, and General McChrystal was found to have acted honorably despite the fact that this tragedy was mishandled. 42

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McChrystal spends his first fall out of the United States military teaching at Yale University. There is a controversy when a screening of a documentary about Pat Tillman16 is scheduled to air; the Yale College Democrats back away from endorsing it. [he starts his consulting firm, The McChrystal Group] hes reportingly getting $60,000 a speaking engagement. ... Note: This chapter was adapted from quotes from Michael Hastings 417-page book The Operators (2012). For more detailed quotes, page references, and links to more detailed documentation, see Appendix F of this post & my posts & my posts Never Shall I Fail My Comrades and Something to Die For.

ADD links to referenced newspaper articles, etc.as footnotes to this chapter

Add footnotes from the following pieces to annotate Hastings quotes from his book:
Even friend Ackerman & prine thinks took advantage of drinking SM4 staff Add Carl Prines GG is Wrong! and Exum post comment in Appendix The Runaway General McChrystals Fate in Limbo as He Prepares to Meet Obama Thom Shanker, Helene Cooper, and Dexter Filkins New York Times, June 22, 2010) Gen. McChrystal allies, Rolling Stone disagree over article's ground rules On the Media: What McChrystal failed to understand

16

Amir Bar-Lev directed the The Tillman Story. This documentary premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Jan. 2010. The Tillman Story is an apt title. The film is centered around the Tillman family who displayed more honor, loyalty, and integrity than their countrys leadership. Still, I prefer the original title: Im Pat Fucking Tillman! (his last words). Ironically, the re-titled film was later given an R rating by the MPAA because Richard Tillman and a couple Rangers dropped the F-bomb a few times. [see my film review in "The Tillman Story"] And, heres Bar-Levs take on our lapdog press: those generals basically say the equivalent of, The dog ate my homework That was how it was reported. The only f-ing idiots who buy that, the only fools who believe that, are the mainstream press. Its just so clear to everyone else, and its the equivalent of saying, Honey, I know that it looks like Im fucking your sister, but actually I dropped my wallet, and then my belt fell down, and she happened to be there. Thats what the military has done in the Pat Tillman case. [see Interviews with The Tillman Story Director Amir Bar-Lev in "The Tillman Story"] 43

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CNN RELIABLE SOURCES -- June 27, 2010 (Interview with Michael Hastings & Lara Logan Rolling Stone Writer: McChrystal Pals 'Were Lying' About Ground Rules For political junkies there's plenty to do and see in "This Town" The military/media attacks on the Hastings article Army probing McChrystal staff over Rolling Stone interview McChrystal Article Inquiry Leaves Questions Open Pentagon Inquiry Into Article Clears McChrystal and Aides Sean Naylor, Army Times 7/7/10 Sources: RS Quotes Made by Jr Staff Howard Kurtz, Washington Post 6/24/10, RSs Mc Interview Shows the Mags Nonmusical Side CNN Reliable Sources 6/27/10, Interview with MH & Lara Logan Matt Tabbi, Rolling Stone 6/28/10Lara Logan, You Suck Talk show with Piers Morgan with John Burns 6/?/10 See WP leak of fact-checker questions and answers. See other references in MH book The Operators See references in my 2013 files

2010 June 23 Brown article in Vanity Fair: Why the Hacks Hate Michael Hastings 2010 May Brown's new Book published with a Blurb by Hastings: Hot, Fat, and Clouded The Amazing and Amusing Failures of America's Chattering Class Q&A with Michael Hastings on The Operators and the Celebrity Generals CSPAN Q & A on The Operators with Michael Hastings (31 YO so 2012?)

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Regardless of How I Judged the [Rolling Stone] Story for Fairness or Accuracy
[Adapted from Gen. Stanley McChrystals 2013 memoir My Share of the Task] It was Nov 19, 2011 and I was once again in Afghanistan. It had been seventeen months since Id left on a June evening [June 21, 2010] amid controversy over a magazine article. ... At the end of February 2010 I received an e-mail from a staff sergeant I dont believe you fully understand the situation we face in this district, and I think you should come down and see it up close. I met Arroyos platoon. After a short brief we went on a combat patrol. [In April 2010] I got another e-mail from Sergeant Arroyo informing me that Mike Ingram had been killed not far from where we patrolled. I felt like I needed to see and listen to the platoon again. With us would be a reporter from Rolling Stone [Michael Hastings] who was periodically interacting with our team, to give him an appreciation for the difficult of the task they faced. Some were openly bitter over their loss and the seeming impossibility of their mission. Why are we here, Sir? Whats the point? For many, I lacked the eloquence to assuage their concerns and could only explain the strategy they were a part of. ... On April 14, 2010, we [command staff] flew to Europe, conducting a short visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels and then continuing to Paris We had an itinerary of office calls, ceremonies, a dinner an ash cloud closed most of Europes airspace for the next five days reaching Berlin by a lengthy bus ride. Our schedule there was similar to that in Paris on Friday, April 16 I took Annie [wife] for dinner at a small French restaurant to celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary. On Monday, June 21 [2010] About 2:00 am Charlie Flynn woke me. The Rolling Stone article is out, and its really bad. How in the world could that story have been a problem? The article was the work of a reporter [Michael Hastings] writing for Rolling Stone magazine who had interacted with my command team several times over the previous several months, including parts of our April trip to Europe. This story, one of a number wed done over the year in Afghanistan, was designed to provide transparency into how my command team operated. By nature I tended to trust people and was typically open and transparent with colleagues and subordinates. But such transparency could go astray when others saw us out of context or when I gave trust to those few who were unworthy of it.
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But, beginning with the provocative title, The Runaway General, [the title on the cover was Obamas General: Why Hes Losing the War] the article described a hard-charging general, a struggling US policy, and attributed a number of unacceptable comments to my command team. I was surprised at the tone and direction of the article. I thought back to the night of Annies and my thirty-third wedding anniversary in Paris. Annie felt the brotherhood among the soldiers was evident and was something the reporter needed to see and understand. I had agreed with her. The printed story cast it in a very different light.. Regardless of how I judged the story for fairness or accuracy, responsibility was mine. That evening [April 22], as the controversy swelled, I was directed to fly back to D.C. for meetings the following morning with the secretary of defense and the president. a number of e-mails came in. One in particular struck me. A member of Staff Sergeant Arroyos platoon whod been present at the meeting described in the Rolling Stone article expressed frustration with the account, and his support. From the moment Id seen the article, Id known there were different options on how to act, and react, to the storm I knew I would face. But I knew only one decision was right for the moment and the mission. I left the White House after a short, professional meeting with President Obama and drove to Fort McNair to tell Annie that the President had accepted my resignation. I told her my life in the Army was over. ... Life would go on. In April 2011, the Department of Defense Inspector Generals office would release a summary of its review into the allegations outlined in the Rolling Stone article. The investigation could not substantiate any violations of Department of Defense standards and found that not all of the events occurred as portrayed in the Rolling Stone article. These conclusions came out quietly, almost a year after the tornado of controversy the article created, but they were important to me. Maybe more important, also that month, I would accept First Lady Obamas request to serve my country again, this time on the board of advisers for Joining Forces, a White House initiative for service members and their families. ... Note: It thats it. no mention MH; *****, 2 vs 400 pages of TO

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Note: This chapter was adapted from quotes from Stanley McChrystals memoir My Share of the Task (2013). For more detailed quotes, page references, and links to more detailed documentation, see Appendix E of this post & my posts Never Shall I Fail My Comrades and Something to Die For. ...

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Responsibility Was Mine


[Adapted from the 2013 Feral Firefighter post NEVER SHALL I FAIL MY COMRADES] 1.) The Rolling Stone article is out [June 22, 2010], and its really bad. The article was the work of a reporter writing for Rolling Stone magazine who had interacted with my command team several times over the previous several months, including parts of our April trip to Europe. By nature I tended to trust people and was typically open and transparent But such transparency could go astray when others saw us out of context or when I gave trust to those few who were unworthy of it. (McChrystal, pp. 387, 109). I despise authors who slam others without even bothering to mention their name; in this case Michael Hastings. Perhaps McChrystal didnt want people to google him to check him out for themselves (or check out his book The Operators which discusses LeAffair Rolling Stan in detail). Hastings was young (only 30 years old at the time), but he had been an Iraq War Newsweek correspondent for 5 years. Perhaps McChrystals team underestimated this kid (like the rock band in the movie Almost Famous). It appears those few who were unworthy of it [trust] was McChrystals subtle slam of Hastings. I guess after all the blow job puff-piece hagiographies he was used to getting from the Establishment press corps, an honest profile by an independent reporter with integrity was a bit off-putting to his ego.

2.) But, beginning with the provocative title, The Runaway General, the article described a hard-charging general, a struggling US policy, and attributed a number of unacceptable comments to my command team. I was surprised at the tone and direction of the article (McChrystal, p. 387) Dont slam the reporter for the title! Editors decide that (and much of the article). Besides, I found the title on the cover to be even more provocative: Obamas General: Why Hes Losing the War. That was the thrust of the article; the banter was to add color and illustrate McChrystals command climate. Attributed? Even when pressed repeatedly, by multiple journalists, McChrystal has consistently refused to confirm or deny the accuracy of the quotes and would not discuss the Rolling Stone article in detail. Why not? Probably because he knows Hastings has much of his (and his staffs0 remarks recorded on tape or written down in his notebooks. Unacceptable was from President Obamas press conference announcing McChrystals firing. In the Rolling Stone article the quotes were anonymous (editorial decision to spare the staff from collateral damage); but in Hastings book they are all attributed by name to members of
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McChrystals staff (obviously tape-recorded or from Hastings detailed notes) and to McChrystal himself. McChrystal doesnt want anyone to focus on the substance of the story; did he and his staff make those unacceptable comments? Thats a battle he knows he cant win. Surprised? Hastings spoke with McChrystals PR guru Duncan Boothby about The Rolling Stone article before it came out. Boothby knew (or suspected) it wasnt going to be good (maybe he didnt share that info with McChrystal). McChrystal was probably surprised that Hastings didnt write a blow-job piece despite the fact Hastings personally got along well with him and this staff.

3.) On April 14, 2010, we flew to Europe on Friday, April 16, when I took Annie for dinner at a small French restaurant to celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary Annie felt the brotherhood among the soldiers was evident and was something the reporter needed to see and understand. The printed story cast it [dinner in Paris] is a very different light Regardless of how I judged the story for fairness or accuracy, responsibility was mine (McChrystal, pp. 384, 387). Fairness? McChrystals staff anonymously claimed that Hastings used off-the-record quotes. However, Hastings had been a reporter for years, knew the rules, and claims he respected the two off-the-record conversations he had with McChrystal. And if the tape is rolling and the reporter is writing in his notebook, I would imagine things are on the record! And many reporters believe that all the damaging quotes were unfairly made at a bar while the staff was drinking/drunk. In reality, most of the damaging quotes were made the first day of Hastings reporting, in the office! Accuracy. As mentioned before, McChrystal has consistently refused to confirm or deny the accuracy of the quotes or whether or not they were insubordinate. Probably because he knows most of them were recorded or noted. Responsibility was mine? BS. McChrystal has evaded responsibility for the Rolling Stone profile that got him fired. Instead of resigning, McChrystal issued an apology and then threw his PR advisor Duncan Boothby over the side of the boat (Boothby offers his resignation McChrystal accepts). He probably thought he could ride out the media storm, again. Instead of taking responsibility, McChrystals portrayed Hastings as the bad guy, the scapegoat for his own sins. McChrystal blames the unnamed reporter (obviously liberal pinko left-wing if hes writing for Rolling Stone magazine!) for an unfair (implies that he was unethically using off-the-record material from guys who were drinking) inaccurate (anonymous quotes attributed). But, McChrystal refuses to discuss the substance of the story with the media. Thats a battle he knows he cant win. If McChrystal was genuinely taking responsibility for the Rolling Stone story, he would say something like, I fucked up by allowing myself and my staff to be too transparent, letting it all hang out, and trash-talking my civilian bosses in front of a reporter (the enemy). He seemed like such a harmless kid and he got along well with me and my staff. But, he was just doing his job and we said everything that appeared in his story.
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The closest he came to saying something like that was in a 2011 Tom Brokaw interview, where he discussed dealing with the press: the press is like -- it's not good or bad, it's like air. It's there. And unless you want to stop breathing, the press is going to be there, and you can't control it. I also tell them -- and I hope no one takes offense -- the press is what the press is. If you pick up a snake and hold it and it eventually bites you, don't get upset. (Laughter.) You know? That's what the press does. (Laughter.) I mean, they do their job.

4.) In April 2011, the DoD IGs office would release a summary of its review into the allegations outlined in the Rolling Stone article. The investigation could not substantiate any violations of DoD standards and found that not all of the events occurred as portrayed in the Rolling Stone article. These conclusions came out quietly, almost a year after the tornado of controversy the article created (McChrystal, p. 390). The DoD Report was a joke. As Hastings wrote in his book, The multiple Pentagon investigations into the Rolling Stone story were particularly absurd. Read it yourself. Its just six pages. Of course, the Pentagon wont release the full report or any of the interviews so the public can check it for themselves.

5.) And its [the storys] ultimate effect was immediately clear to me That evening, I was directed to fly back to D.C. From the moment Id seen the article, I knew only one decision was right for the moment and the mission I called no one for advice. we put on dress green uniforms before going to the Pentagon I left the White House after a short, professional meeting with President Obama and drove to Fort McNair to tell Annie that the President had accepted my resignation (McChrystal, p. 387-388).
**** ADD I consulted no one! Talked to Gates, issued apology, fired his PR guy!

[the storys] ultimate effect was immediately clear to me. Really? McChrystal staff told WP reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran: After McChrystal read it, "he knew instantly, this was going to be very large," the source said. "But I don't think any of us realized it was going to be as large as it was." I called no one for advice: Really! The general's first action was to call his superiors [eg. Mullen & Gates]. Then he began reaching out to members of the Obama administration mentioned in the article [e.g. Biden, Holbrooke, etc. (from Gen. McChrystal allies, Rolling Stone disagree over article's ground rules, WP 6-26-10). I knew only one decision was right McChrystal wrote that he made the one decision to resign on the flight back to D.C. In interviews, hes said that when he met with Obama at the
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White House he had the resignation in his pocket (really?) and cheerfully offered his resignation although he would have stayed on if Obama thought it best: I wanted to stay in the job but I wanted to do what was best for the mission. Whatever the president felt was best for the mission was what I needed to do And he told CBS News that, "I told the president that I would support any decision he made -- if he wanted me to go back or if he wanted to accept my resignation, which I carried with me." McChrystal said, "I accepted responsibility, I ended my career over that, and I've moved on with my life." What BS! McChrystal did not release his resignation before he was called back to DC. Instead, he issued a public apology and let his PR advisor Duncan Boothby take the fall: Spin it as a PR fuckup, thats all. He offers his resignation McChrystal accepts (Hastings, p. 316). Unless you quit by publically announcing your resignation before you meet with your Boss, youve been fired! (you can call that resigned if it helps your ego, but thats not candid). I ended my career? No, Obama did. going to the Pentagon. McChrystal implies he made his decision to resign on the flight back to D.C. But, McChrystal hadnt submitted his resignation before he met with the President. From Mike Allens The Tick-Tock: How President Obama Took Command of the McChrystal Situation (6/24/10 Politico): NBC News Chief Pentagon Correspondent Jim Miklaszewski happened to be on the steps of the Pentagon when McChrystal arrived yesterday morning for his meeting with Secretary Gates, before heading to the White House. Mik says McChrystal bounded up the steps: "My question was, 'Have you already submitted your resignation?' [McChrystal said] 'Come on, you know better than that. No!' 'When I asked "Will you?" he was already rushing through the door and up the stairs to his meeting with Gates and never responded." And its worth noting that CSM Mike Hall was with McChrystal during his meeting with Obama. Although Hall wouldnt discuss the meeting, he did say that, nobody knew what was going to happen, nobody knew what General McChrystal was going to say, or what the president was going to say. Hmm. It sure sounds as though McChrystal hadnt decided to resign after his Pentagon meeting before he went to the White House. McChrystal would not disclose what Obama said to him during their meeting after the article ran, saying what is said between the president and I in the Oval Office really needs to be between us. He wants the powers-that-be to know that he can now be trusted to keep his mouth shut about his bosses. One reason he got fired was because his negative impressions of Obama he had shared with his staff and Michael Hastings appeared in Rolling Stone. Apparently, McChrystals at least learned the lesson to not bad-mouth his Boss in front of others. ... McChrystal ends his memoir with a brief, disingenuous discussion of the controversial Rolling Stone profile by Michael Hastings which led to his June 2010 firing by President Obama. McChrystal claims he resigned (although he had only issued an apology and hadnt submitted
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his resignation before meeting Obama). McChrystal still declines to confirm or deny the accuracy of the quotes and falsely implies they were off-the record. McChrystal claims he consulted no one (although his first action was to call his superiors such as Secretary of Defense Gates and Vice President Biden, etc.). Finally, McChrystal claims he took full responsibility for the Rolling Stone piece (although PR advisor Duncan Boothby took the hit for him) but mostly blames the reporter for his (and his staffs) trash talk. For a more critical and honest account of LeAffair Rolling Stan, I would suggest Michael Hastings 2012 book The Operators. Overall, McChrystals account of LeAffair Rolling Stan is disingenuous. He claims to have taken responsibility for the Rolling Stone story (although he blames Michael Hastings, without mentioning his name, for his supposed lack of fairness and accuracy). However, McChrystal has refused dodged discussing the substance of the story and has repeatingly refused to confirm or deny the accuracy of Hastings quotes and story. Hilariously, McChrystal claims he made the decision to resign on the flight back to D.C. (although he hadnt yet submitted his resignation two hours before seeing the President). He said he would have stayed on the job if Obama had thought it best; obviously, McChrystal was actually fired by President Obama after being called back to DC from Afghanistan.
...

Wed been fighting the wrong war, in the wrong way, in the wrong country. War had been exposed as the Giant Lying Machine17, in Halberstams words. It was all, it seemed, a scam. In contrast to Pat Tillman and other beautiful souls, Gen. McChrystal hasnt shown himself to be a man of integrity, honesty, or moral courage. Despite McChrystals platitudes about leadership, the Ranger Creed, and taking care of a fallen Ranger and his family, it appears this guy is a master of confabulation and bullshit who just wont genuinely admit a mistake, genuinely take responsibility, or be genuinely truthful about the controversies of his career. His hypocrisy is pathetic.
17

And, heres Michael Hastings on the Giant Lying Machine [Robert Greenwald and Reporter Michael Hastings Take on the Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War Machine (Alternet ,1-27-12): ... I called it the media military industrial complex, and one of the sort of insights that I have had is that they call it the Pentagon Press Corps, right? And you sort of think, oh, well it means the people who kind of watch over the Pentagon and perform the media's watchdog function, but no, it's an extension of the Pentagon. For the most part. I mean, when was the last time anyone at the Pentagon broke a story that wasn't pre-approved? It's very, very rare. And I noticed this first in Iraq when things were going horribly when I was there. And the spokespeople in the military public relations apparatus would just lie to your face. Every day they would lie. And God forbid you point this out. Yeah, we all know they're lying but you're not supposed to say it, you know? We know we're getting bullshit every day, but come on, man, don't point it out -- that's not classy. 52

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In the past, I used to have a grudging respect for McChrystal when he remained silent and simply refused comment about Pat Tillman. But, since McChrystal wont come clean about his mistakes, I feel he ought to take the advice of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who (according to David Sanders on p. 107 of Confront & Conceal) offered up a barbed assessment of how the White House had spun the Bin Laden raid: I have a new communications approach to recommend Shut the fuck up.

Use appendix material. Need to update with links to source articles. Expand a bit. Add links SM4 1st CBS interview, others where dodge RS questions

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You Keep Your Mouth Shut Every Day You Want to Scream
McChrystals still spinning his talking points about LeAffair Rolling Stan. Just last week, he supposedly spoke candidly on the subject at Fortune magazines Brainstorm Tech "Lessons in Leadership" session on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 in Aspen (Transcript: Stanley McChrystal and Todd Bradley) speaking with Pattie Sellers (Fortunes editor-at-large): RETIRED GENERAL STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL Increased transparency brings increased transparency. And if you're an idiot people figure that out quicker. The thing I struggle with most is the speed at which information moves prevents it from being vetted. It prevents it from being corrected. And so a new story goes out People get all a-fluster, and then by the time reality is understood there's a lot of people who have acted, or over reacted. And we've seen that. I've lived that. PATTIE SELLERS: you're leading to another question I had, which is what do you do when you either screw up or you have a major setback Stan resigned from the Army at the height of his career, because of quotes that were in Rolling Stone Magazine by some of his aides about the Obama administration and talk about communication moving at the speed of light, and not having the ability to do anything about it. RETIRED GENERAL STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL: Pattie gave the guts of it. That was a guy [Michael Hastings] who had been embedded with us on and off, wrote an article, attributed quotes to members of my staff 18that really made it seem disloyal, or at least not professional. Six months later, after the IG investigation, they determined that much of what was in that story was not substantiated. But, you didn't read it on the front page.19 So what do you do? I was completely surprised by the story, starting with the title. But, I'd been around long enough to know the import of this and what was going to happen. So you make some decisions right then, whether the story had been correct or not there wasn't going to be time to really sort that out before decisions would be made. And so rather than try and do a big investigation and contest it I made the decision right then that I was going to offer my resignation, and the president could take it or not take it and I was going to say I'd do either way. And what I was going to try to do is conduct myself every day for the rest of my life in a way that would cause anybody who saw or dealt with me to say that's not congruent with the tone of that report. So rather than take on the report directly I decided to take it on indirectly and just try to disprove it by my conduct. You pay a big price when you do that. Silence hurts. When you keep your mouth shut and you don't write about it, you don't talk about it, and every day you want to scream. You want to scream out every day, a little less every day, but every day you do.

18

NYTs Thom Shankers false meme has stuck: Most of the comments seem to have been uttered during unguarded moments, in places like bars and restaurants where the general and his aides gathered to unwind.
19

True, it was only on p. A16 of the New York Times April 19, 2010. edition.

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Although McChrystal claims he wanted to scream out the truth about it, he repeatedly failed to discuss the accuracy of the Rolling Stone after his memoir was published in January 2013: Gen. Stanley McChrystal on the tasks behind him CBS Morning Show January 6, 2013: Then Rolling Stone published "The Runaway General," depicting McChrystal and his closest aides trashtalking their civilian leaders. McChrystal and his wife Annie had been celebrating their 33rd anniversary They had invited the Rolling Stone reporter, Michael Hastings, to join them for late night drinks with McChrystal's staff. Annie recalled, "That evening when Stan and I were getting ready for bed, I said to him, 'Wow, I am so glad the reporter saw that evening and got to see what I saw, was just this amazing group of men who have been serving together for so many years and in this fight for so many years, and that kind of connection that they all had to each other." But the anonymous quotes attributed to McChrystal's staff were devastating "My whole life, I'd expected that I could get killed in war," McChrystal said. "In my wildest dreams I never once thought I could be accused of anything approaching disloyalty or disrespect."

Ex-Gen. McChrystal: 'I don't miss the politics' (Susan Page -- USA TODAY,January 6, 2013): McChrystal says he was taken totally by surprise when he read the story, although he still declines to confirm or deny the accuracy of the quotes. (In an interview, Annie McChrystal, who was in Paris at the time to celebrate their 33rd wedding anniversary, does dispute the article, saying the insubordinate tone it reports "wasn't what I heard.")

TODAY SHOW #2 INTERVIEW with Matt Lauer 1-07-13: I want to take you back to the "rolling stone" magazine that led to your resignation from your post. there were several demeaning comments attributed to your staff members and even to you. was that article accurate? was that the way you and your staff members felt about those people? >>it's interesting. in my book i outline that in about a page and a half in a 400-page book because that's the level of its importance. there was a lot of things in leadership i dealt with. what i would say is most important is the positive things. i don't think we need another book where we are finger pointing. >>were the quotes in that "rolling stone" article that were attributed to your staff members and you accurate? otherwise you should be coming out against "rolling stone" magazine. were they accurate? >>the most important thing is that's past. i accepted responsibility. i was in command. and as you're in command you're responsible for everything bad that happens and everything good and i respect that. Notice that McChrystal kept dodging the question! He wont go on the record because he knows Elise Jordan has his (and Team Americas) quotes recorded on tape.
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MORE LIES BORNE OUT BY FACTS, IF NOT THE TRUTH

Pentagons NYT Reporter Thom Shanker

Michael Hastings widow, Elise Jordan

NYT Public Editor Margaret Sullivan

the administrations position on the matter was a cover-up a mistake. But it worked And anyway, his version could never be challenged [it] would become the governments official pronouncement Allegations, lies, denials, dissembling, distortions And all the while they secretly whispered to the media And the media gave them their forum, always ascertaining beforehand that their allegations were borne out by facts, if not the truth. --- Senator James Webb, Something to Die For (1991) ... I was shocked and saddened to read a blatant mischaracterization of my late husband Michael Hastingss Rolling Stone story in his obituary [which] questioned the accuracy of the article If a reporter at the Times actually would read and properly analyze the Pentagon report, they would find exactly the opposite. I trust youll make these corrections before you print tomorrows paper. -- Elise Jordan (June 18, 2013) I dont believe weve mischaracterized the Defense Department report from 2011 I think its also clear that its not The Times that is questioning the articles accuracy; it was the Defense Department. Were simply reporting what it publicly said. [as we must, if were going to write an honest obit about him.] So we see no reason to change the obituary. -- NYT Obituaries Editor Bill McDonald (June 18, 2013) The obituary is not factually inaccurate, as far as I can tell But it doesnt adequately get across the essence of Mr. Hastings journalism .... And, in the way it presents the Pentagons response the obituary seems to diminish his works legitimacy. -- NYT Public Editor Margaret Sullivan (June 22, 2013)

...
When a journalist dies, how can you tell if they've had a career that's upheld the proudest journalistic traditions of challenging the powerful and fearlessly exposing the truth? The New York Times will attempt to piss on that career in the journalist's obituary. -- Jim Naureckas, FAIR (June 20, 2013) 56

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: More Lies Borne Out by Facts, If Not the Truth
"In its obituary for the journalist [Michael Hastings]... the New York Times toed a line peddled by the government at the time of the McChrystal scandal by casting some doubt on Hastings reporting. The journalists widow, Elise Jordan, has been swift to take issue with the Times obit." -- Natasha Lennard, Salon.com (June 20, 2013)

** DRAFT** The Times obituary for Rolling Stones reporter Michael Hastings quoted their Pentagon reporter Thom Shanker whose April 2011 article said the Pentagon challenged the accuracy of his profile of General [Stanley] McChrystal. Michael Hastings widow, Elise Jordan, objected to the blatant mischaracterization in his obituary and wrote the NYT asking them to make corrections: If a reporter at the Times actually would read and properly analyze the Pentagon report, they would find exactly the opposite [ of an inaccurate story] the mischaracterization in the obituary reflects a longstanding and ongoing misrepresentation of the facts in and surrounding this story by the Times I personally transcribed and have all the tape recordings of Michaels interviews during his time with McChrystal and his staff. I can personally verify that some of the most damning comments were made by McChrystal himself, and many others made by his aides in his presence were greeted with his enthusiastic approval. In his disingenuous 2013 memoir McChrystal only briefly mentioned the controversy which led to his firing by President Obama [see the post "Never Shall I Fail My Comrades" at the Feral Firefighter blog]. Although McChrystal claimed he took full responsibility for the controversy, he blamed Michael Hastings for his supposed lack of fairness and accuracy. However, it's worth noting that McChrystal has repeatedly refused to confirm or deny the accuracy of Hastings quotes when questioned by reporters (and was never questioned by the Pentagon investigators). In his 2012 book The Operators Michael Hastings wrote: The investigation reads comically-no one the investigators spoke to admits to saying what they said, but they also don't admit to the quotes not having been said ... It is the last whitewash of McChrystals military career. Pentagon officials would privately tell journalists that the intent of the investigation wasnt even to find wrongdoing; it was to damage my credibility. However, the NYT obituaries editor Bill McDonald refused to make corrections to Hastings obituary. He claimed that its not The Times that is questioning the articles accuracy; it was the Defense Department. We're simply reporting what it publicly said [as we must, if were going to write an honest obit about him.] Really? His response brings to mind a quote from the film V for Vendetta in which a TV broadcaster said, "our job is to report the news, not fabricate it; that's the government's job.

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The Timess blatant mischaracterization of Hastings "Rolling Stone" story is another example of their lack of journalistic integrity. Instead of seeking to discern the truth of the controversy, the Times has once again (as with the Pentagons NYT reporter Thom Shankers 2009 whitewash of McChrystals role in the Pat Tillman cover-up) displayed its stenographic ability to parrot the official government position borne out by facts, if not the truth. Stenography in the service of smearing a real journalist after his tragic, early death!

...
In her take on the obit, NYT Public Editor Margaret Sullivan said that the obituaryis not factually inaccurate, as far as I can tell What exactly does that mean? (If you take out the double-negative, shes saying the obituary is factually accurate). Does she agree with the NYTs obituary editor McDonald that it's OK to simply repeat the Pentagon's "lies borne out by facts, if not the truth"? As far as I can tell. How much fact-checking did Sullivan do? Why didnt she discover that Hasting's story appears to be more credible and backed up by more evidence (20 hours of tape, 70 pages of notes, and his book the Operators vs. the never released Army report & the 6-page Pentagon whitewash of a report). Or ask Elise Jordan for a look at Hastings transcripts/tapes to verify the facts for herself? Or try to get Gen. McChrystal or any of his staff to actually go on the record to dispute the accuracy of the profile? [for links to source material, see More NYTs Lies Borne Out by Facts, If Not the Truth at the Feral Firefighter blog]. Unfortunately, Sullivans column carefully dodged addressing the crux of the controversy: the truthfulness of his Rolling Stone profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Sullivan failed to resolve this issue. She didn't play much of a watchdog role on the NYT, although she did point out the obit editor (?) cut the original on-line version's final lines that praised Hastings from the print edition (supposedly for "space concerns").

...
In a 2012 Alternet interview Michael Hastings was asked: are there individual reporters whom you want to call out publicly for their sort of following the Pentagon line and not doing their job? He replied, Yeah. I saw a pretty egregious example with the New York Times Pentagon correspondent [Thom Shanker] who literally just published the Pentagon spokesperson's anonymous quotes when he was reporting on my stories he's got the official line from the Pentagon. Shanker wrote the April 2011 NYT piece that claimed a Pentagon investigation had found no proof of wrongdoing by Gen. Stanley McChrystal in the events portrayed in Hastings 2010 Rolling Stone profile. Its worth noting that three years previously, Shanker had also written written a May 2009 NYT piece that whitewashed Gen. Stanley McChrystals key role in the cover-up of Pat Tillmans 2004 friendly-fire death in Afghanistan. Just before McChrystals June 2009 Senate confirmation as Afghan War commander, the NYTs published Thom Shankers piece, Nomination of U.S. Afghan Commander Revives Questions
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in Tillman Case supposedly exonerating McChrystal and claimed he was cleared of wrongdoing. Although Shankers article was full of official facts, he ignored clear evidence of McChrystals culpability [see the posts More NYTs Lies Borne Out By Facts, If Not the Truth and "Lies Borne Out by Facts, If Not the Truth" at the Feral Firefighter blog]. The evening after his Senate confirmation, McChrystal gave Thom Shanker (& fellow NYT reporter Eric Schmitt) a private tour of his new Pentagon HQ! A few months later, Shanker took a sabbatical as a "writer in residence" at the think-tank CNAS (which worked closely with McChrystal on the Afghan War surge) and CNAS hosted his 2011 book release party. Isnt access grand! I didnt come away from my personal experience with Thom Shanker & the New York Times with any confidence in our watchdog media. As Hastings said, they call it the Pentagon Press Corps, right? And you sort of think, oh, well it means the people who kind of watch over the Pentagon and perform the media's watchdog function, but no, it's an extension of the Pentagon.

MH Really did report without fear or favor vs. NYT

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Blantant Mischaracterization in The Times Obituary


** DRAFT** The New York Times obituary for Michael Hastings included quotes from Thom Shankers 2011 article (Pentagon Inquiry Into Article Clears McChrystal and Aides) which claimed a Dept. of Defense investigation had found no proof of wrongdoing by the general were unable to confirm the events as reported in the June 2010 article in Rolling Stone and challenged the accuracy of the profile of General [Stanley] McChrystal written by Michael Hastings. Michael Hastings widow, Elise Jordan, objected to the blatant mischaracterization of my late husband Michael Hastingss Rolling Stone story The Runaway General in his obituary and wrote a letter to the NYT asking them to make corrections: If a reporter at the Times actually would read and properly analyze the Pentagon report, they would find exactly the opposite the mischaracterization in the obituary reflects a longstanding and ongoing misrepresentation of the facts in and surrounding this story by the Times I personally transcribed and have all the tape recordings of Michaels interviews during his time with McChrystal and his staff. I can personally verify that some of the most damning comments were made by McChrystal himself, and many others made by his aides in his presence were greeted with his enthusiastic approval. In his disingenuous 2013 memoir McChrystal only briefly mentioned the controversy which led to his firing by President Obama [see the post "Never Shall I Fail My Comrades" at the Feral Firefighter blog]. Although McChrystal claimed he took full responsibility (though he failed to mention that his PR guru Duncan Boothby fell on his sword) for the controversy, he also blamed Michael Hastings for his supposed lack of fairness and accuracy. However, it's telling that McChrystal has repeatedly refused to confirm or deny the accuracy of Hastings quotes when questioned by reporters. Why? Probably because he knows many of the quotes are on audiotape. ...

Michael Hastings' Wife Obliterates New York Times For Dismissive Obituary Michael Hastings widow challenges NYT obit NYT Pays Tribute to Hastings by Attacking Him After Death Transcript: Stanley McChrystal and Todd Bradley Gen. Stanley McChrystal on life after the military
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Fast-forward to 44:00: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nM2JyWkpriI McChrystal discusses resignation at Fortune conference in Aspen A general's advice on surviving a setback Overcommitted -- Breach of Trust, by Andrew J. Bacevich Rachel Maddow The New York Times, September 5, 2013 ... Remembering Michael Hastings (Peter Goldman Newsweek Memories) He called me from Paris one late night a couple of years later he wanted to talk about General Stanley McChrystal McChrystal and his crew had got indiscreetly mouthy about their nominal superiors in Obamas Washington. Michael read me some highlights from his notes. The stuff was hot. Could he use it? I asked the obvious questions: Everybody there knew you were a reporter? Yeah. Did anyone say this gathering is off the record? No. Were you recording it? Taking notes? Both. Youre a journalist? Yeah. Then go with it. You have to. Do what the spirit say do. When the journalist Michael Hastings died mainstream journalism did not afford his memory much respect. His widow, Elise Jordan, complained to The New York Times about the characterization of his lifes work in the papers short, to-the-point obituary He was resented and distrusted even in death, it seems because of the slashing, pitiless nature of his good and important work. -- Rachel Maddow, Overcommitted - Breach of Trust, by Andrew J. Bacevich (Sept 5, 2013)

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"Our Job is to Report the News, Not Fabricate It; That's the Government's Job.
** DRAFT** However, despite the pro forma nature of the DoDs investigation and the BS of its whitewashed report, the NYT obituaries editor Bill McDonald refused to make corrections to Hastings obituary. He claimed that its not The Times that is questioning the articles accuracy; it was the Defense Department. We're simply reporting what it publicly said. McDonalds response brings to mind a quote from the film V for Vendetta in which a TV broadcaster said, "its our job is to report the news, not fabricate it; that's the government's job. It appears the NYT journalistic standard really is the stenographic Stephen Colbert Standard: Let's review the rules, here's how it works. The President makes decisions, he's the decider. The press secretary announces the decisions, and you people of the press type these decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put them through a spell check and go home. The blatant mischaracterization in NYTs Michael Hastings obituary is merely the latest example of their lack of journalistic integrity and its unwillingness to use what Kevin Tillman called a mountain of evidence to arrive at an honest or even sensible conclusion. Instead of seeking to discern the truth of the controversy, the NYTs has once again (as with Shankers whitewash of McChrystals key role in the Pat Tillman cover-up) displayed its stenographic ability to parrot the official government position borne out by facts, if not the truth. Stenography in the service of smearing a real journalist after his tragic, early death! ... Michael Hastings' Wife Obliterates New York Times For Dismissive Obituary Hastings Obituary Did Not Capture His Adversarial Spirit Michael Hastings widow challenges NYT obit NYT Pays Tribute to Hastings by Attacking Him After Death Chris Hedges: Journalism Should Be About Truth Why the U.S. Executive Branch Is a Clear and Present Danger to Our Democracy

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Is Not Factually Inaccurate, As Far As I Can Tell.


** DRAFT**

And even the NYTs Public Editor Margaret Sullivan in her column, Hastings Obituary Did Not Capture His Adversarial Spirit, side-stepped the central issue of the Times obituary controversy: the truthfulness of Michael Hastings Rolling Stone profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Her column did nothing to resolve the controversy. She merely stated the obituary is not factually inaccurate, as far as I can tell. What the hell does that mean? (sounds like a lie borne out by facts, if not the truth). Did she even bother to carefully read the six-page report and Hastings detailed account in his book The Operators? Or take a look at Hastings transcripts/tapes to verify the facts for herself? In her take on the obit, NYT Public Editor Margaret Sullivan said that the obituaryis not factually inaccurate, as far as I can tell What exactly does that mean? (If you take out the double-negative, shes saying the obituary is factually accurate). Does she agree with the NYTs obituary editor McDonald that it's OK to simply repeat the Pentagon's "lies borne out b y facts, if not the truth"? As far as I can tell. How much fact-checking did Sullivan do? Why didnt she discover that Hasting's story appears to be more credible and backed up by more evidence (20 hours of tape, 70 pages of notes, and his book the Operators vs. the never released Army report & the 6-page Pentagon whitewash of a report). Or ask Elise Jordan for a look at Hastings transcripts/tapes to verify the facts for herself? Or try to get Gen. McChrystal or any of his staff to actually go on the record to dispute the accuracy of the profile? [for links to source material, see More NYTs Lies Borne Out by Facts, If Not the Truth at the Feral Firefighter blog]. Unfortunately, Sullivans column carefully dodged addressing the crux of the controversy: the truthfulness of his Rolling Stone profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Sullivan failed to resolve this issue. She didn't play much of a watchdog role on the NYT, although she did point out the obit editor (?) cut the original on-line version's final lines that praised Hastings from the print edition (supposedly for "space concerns"). ...
Ben Smith @BuzzFeedBen22 Jun @sulliview on her paper's disgraceful obituary for Michael Hastings http://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/publiceditor/2013/06/22/times-obituary-of-michael-hastings-did-notcapture-his-adversarial-spirit/ Rohit Kumar @zrahul202022 Jun @BuzzFeedBen @Sulliview a double negative with a cop out 'is not factually inaccurate as far as I can tell' #wordgymnastic 65

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... Hastings Obituary Did Not Capture His Adversarial Spirit NYT Public Editor: Hastings Obit Didnt Capture His Adversarial Spirit NY Times' Michael Hastings Obit Criticized By Public Editor Michael Hastings and the New York Times NYT Public Editor Joins Critics of Hastings Obit (really? Was NYT Obit for Michael Hastings Unfair? Widow Complains, Public Editor Comments Public Ed. Hits 'NYT' Hastings Obit Think Again: Mainstream Media Refuses to Recognize the Elephant in the Room Chris Hedges: Journalism Should Be About Truth

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NYTs Final Dig at Hastings


** DRAFT** Finally, in what appears to be the Timess final posthumous dig at Micheal Hastings reputation, someone cut for space reasons a quotation from the BuzzFeed Web site that appeared initially in the online version of the article (its not in the print and archived version): Michael Hastings was really only interested in writing stories someone didnt want him to write often his subjects; occasionally his editor. While there is no template for a great reporter, he was one for reasons that were intrinsic to who he was: ambitious, skeptical of power and conventional wisdom, and incredibly brave. After her treatment by the NYTs, perhaps Michael Hastings widow Elise Jordan should release the tapes/transcripts of his interviews with Gen. McChrystals "Team America" to attempt to clear his journalistic reputation (and stick it to McChrystal and the NYT!). Maybe give them to a more reputable news outlet like The Guardian whove actually done some real journalism recently! ...

Hastings Obituary Did Not Capture His Adversarial Spirit NYT Pays Tribute to Hastings by Attacking Him After Death

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Postscript: The New York Times Management Cant Admit They Made a Mistake.
[Piers Morgan:] The New York Times obituary cast a bit of doubt on Michael Hastings Rolling Stone article. It was absolutely ridiculous and totally classless. If the obituary writer had bothered to go back and read the report, she would see what she put out there actually was factually inaccurate, I still feel very strongly that we should have a retraction, but clearly the NYT management cant step up to the plate and admit they made a mistake. [Piers Morgan:] You were right, and they were wrong. -- Elise Jordan, Piers Morgan Live (August 5, 2013) ... The American Conservative reporter Kelly Vahlos ended her eulogy, Michael Hastings, Truthteller, Dead at 33, with: Hastings was lambasted by the establishment hive for supposedly breaking the rules, which meant he did his job I believe his book [The Operators] is one of the few must reads to come out of the war reportage in that it rankled the powerful while keeping faith with the people, and thats real journalism. That is why he became a correspondent and why he will be forever remembered as a truth teller. To say he will be missed would be a gross understatement. We are losing so much.

Notes from Piers Morgan Interview FULL Video (6:12): 3:28 Would have loved to work the NSA story. Obama massive crackdown. Investigations on whistleblowers. Climate of fear. Motivate him to tell the truth and challenge authority. 4:39 Choose a big target, not the grunt in the field. 4:61 The Operators. Its a really wonderful book. To me, I think it will be remembered as the best narrative non-fiction of the last decade of wars. It is the story of embed with SM4, but much more than that. Also about the infighting in WASh. Disconnect between guys on the ground fighting the war and the policymakers who are totally disconnected from it. Notes from SHORT video (3:12): 1:24 His profile on Brennan published in RS in a couple of weeks.
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1:55 He loved to always challenge conventional wisdom. There was so much controversy surrounding the McChrystal article. If people really read the article, it was less about the quotes here and there, than the narrative that he brought together,that was challenging the narrative that COIN was working in AF. With the publication of the article you can really see how the trajectory of the AF war changed. He had such a huge impact. ? missing bit about TO remembered? 4 minutes vs 3 minutes? 2:32 NYT obiturary cast a bit of doubt on MHs RS article: . It was absolutely ridiculous and totally classless. If the obit writer had bothered to go back and read the report, she would see what she put out there actually was factually inaccurate, I still feel very strongly that we should have a retraction, but clearly the NYT management cant step up to the plate and admit they made a mistake. You were right, and you were wrong. ... Remembering Michael Hastings (Peter Goldman Newsweek Memories) He called me from Paris one late night a couple of years later he wanted to talk about General Stanley McChrystal McChrystal and his crew had got indiscreetly mouthy about their nominal superiors in Obamas Washington. Michael read me some highlights from his notes. The stuff was hot. Could he use it? I asked the obvious questions: Everybody there knew you were a reporter? Yeah. Did anyone say this gathering is off the record? No. Were you recording it? Taking notes? Both. Youre a journalist? Yeah. Then go with it. You have to. Do what the spirit say do. ... Michael Hastings wrestled with demons, but legacy remains intact (Robin Abcarian LA Times, August 21, 2013) Overcommitted -- Breach of Trust, by Andrew J. Bacevich Rachel Maddow The New York Times, September 5, 2013

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IT IS THE LAST WHITEWASH OF GEN. MCCHRYSTALS MILITARY CAREER

Men like [SAS Commander Graeme] Lamb and [Gen. Stanley] McChrystal told themselves they operated within a strict code of honor ... And this is where I saw the flaw. How could they, at the same time, be involved in cover-ups with [Pat] Tillman, with [JSOC] torture, with endless allegations of reckless civilian killings [e.g. Gardez]? On April 8, 2011 the Defense Department [Rolling Stone] investigation into McChrystal and his staff is completed. The investigation reads comically It is the last whitewash of McChrystals military career. Pentagon officials would privately tell journalists that the intent of the investigation wasnt even to find wrongdoing; it was to damage my credibility. -- Michael Hastings, The Operators The multiple Pentagon investigations into the Rolling Stone story were particularly absurd. Is whitewash one or two words? Of course, the results of these investigations were invariably reported with pro-Pentagon spin. Thom Shanker the New York Timess Pentagon correspondent, didnt even bother calling us for comment before he ran with the Pentagon spokespersons story clearing McChrystal, whatever that meant. The Pentagons attempt at rewriting this history has been disturbing to observe. I suggest reading the report of the investigations in full, if you want some comic relief. -- Michael Hastings, Harpers 2012 Interview

...
On the day in the summer of 2009 that a Senate vote confirmed General McChrystal [after Shankers May 25th NYT Pat Tillman whitewash] and elevated him to his new command and he deployed to Afghanistan, he took two reporters from the New York Times [Tom Shanker & Eric Schmitt] on a tour of his new rear headquarters in a sealed corridor of the Pentagon basement CNAS in Washington allowed each of us to spend 90 days [Fall 2009] as a writer in residence it is a place where many of the sharpest thinkers on national security hang their hat or pass through for coffee or lunch -- Thom Shanker & Eric Schmitt, Counterstrike (2010) 70

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2013 Constitution Projects Whitewash of McChrystals Command of JSOC Torture


[adapted from the 2013 post Never Shall I Fail My Comrades] The Constititution Project describes itself as a national watchdog group that advances bipartisan, consensus-based solutions to some of most difficult constitutional challenges of our time. Their blue-ribbon Task Force on Detainee Treatment was made up of former highranking officials with distinguished careers and includes conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats and was charged with providing the American people with a broad understanding of what is known and what may still be unknown about the past and current treatment of suspected terrorists detained by the U.S. government during the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations. On April 16, 2013, the Constitution Project released their Detainee Treatment Report report which was the product of more than two years of research, analysis and deliberation. This report described the evolution of torture policies and practice by the military & CIA at Guantanamo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Although it received front-page coverage in the New York Times, it was largely overshadowed by the Boston bombings that occurred that same day. Their report brings together much valuable information (and is a valuable complement to the Senate Armed Services Committees 2008 report Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody that only focused on policies). However, Marcy Wheeler wrote a critical post on the report at her Emptywheel blog post (Even Bipartisan Conventional Wisdom Report Says It Was Torture). I also found the report to be flawed. After a quick read of CH 3, I found the report whitewashed Gen. Stanley McChrystals command of torture from 2003 to 2005 by JSOC forces. And the report doesnt even mention Admiral Bill McRaven by name (the report is written to scapegoat his predecessor BG Kyle Koenig) although he commanded JSOC TF 121 during its worst use of torture in late fall 2003 and spring 2004. Why? Probably because he isnt yet retired and is now commander of US SOCOM. So much for accountability! (See AppendixC for more details). The report failed to explicitly note that JSOC torture was conducted under the direct command of Gen. McChrystal & Admiral McRaven (McRavens name isnt even mentioned). It fails to mention that both officers approved several torture SOPs after taking command. Instead the report is written in a manner that places blame on BG Kyle Koenig and argues that McChrystal came in and cleaned things up (using extensive quotes from his disingenuous memoir, even though McChrystal declined several invitations from the Task Force to be interviewed about Afghanistan and Iraq). I find it rather amazing they would use his BS quotes despite his refusal to answer their questions!
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The report noted that, McChrystal declined several invitations from the Task Force to be interviewed about Afghanistan and Iraq. Instead, for JSOCs response to allegations of abuse the report uncritically used extensive quotes from McChrystals recent disingenuous memoir that paint him in a favorable light as the guy who supposedly cleaned up JSOC torture. The report quotes from McChrystals memoir: [t]here were lapses of discipline, but they were never tolerated. Never a wink and a nod. However, the report noted that neither the CID or Red Cross had access to JSOCs Camp Nama, many obstacles were placed in the way of CID investigators, and that reports of torture up the TF 121 chain of command went into a black hole. The report mentions how President Obama back-pedaled & blocked the April 2009 release of JSOC torture photos. Its worth noting the dates of McChrystal's nomination and President Obama's decision not to release photos of prisoner abuse in Iraq; May 11th and 12th, respectively. Presumably, some of the photos showed abuse by JSOC forces under his command? (Note: See my posts "The Emperor's General" or "The [Untold] Tillman Story" for details on the McChrystal Photo Protection Act of 2009.) Probably the most egregious whitewash was a passage (p. 91) by an interrogator at Camp Nama who said, We called the colonel by his first name, called the sergeant major by his first name. I couldnt tell you the sergeant majors last name if I tried. Same with the colonel The interrogator also said that neither the Red Cross nor the Armys Criminal Investigative Division had access to Camp Nama. However, the report somehow omitted further damming quotes from the same interrogator!: Do you know where the colonel was getting his orders from? he asks. I believe it was a two-star general. I believe his name was General McChrystal. I saw him there a couple of times. It was a point of pride that the Red Cross would never be allowed in the door 'Will they ever be allowed in here?' And he [colonel] said absolutely not. He had this directly from General McChrystal This facility was completely closed off to anybody investigating, even Army investigators." ... Note: For the unabridged version and links to source material, see pp. 98 101 and Appendix C of the post Never Shall I Fail My Comrades

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2011 -- It is the Last Whitewash of McChrystals Military Career


** DRAFT** In his 2012 book The Operators Michael Hastings lambasted the DoD investigation and resulting report: The investigation reads comically. It is the last whitewash of McChrystals military career. Pentagon officials would privately tell journalists that the intent of the investigation wasnt even to find wrongdoing; it was to damage my credibility. And in a 2012 Harpers interview Hastings said, The multiple Pentagon investigations into the Rolling Stone story were particularly absurd. Is whitewash one or two words? In my experience, when the DoD investigates itselfespecially when powerful people are involvedthey find they did nothing wrong. Or, they find some low-level asshole to hang out to dry Thom Shanker the New York Timess Pentagon correspondent, didnt even bother calling us for comment before he ran with the Pentagon spokespersons story clearing McChrystal The Pentagons attempt at rewriting this history has been disturbing to observe. I suggest reading the report of the investigations in full, if you want some comic relief. In his disingenuous 2013 memoir McChrystal only briefly mentioned the controversy which led to his firing by President Obama [see the post "Never Shall I Fail My Comrades" at the Feral Firefighter blog]. Although McChrystal claimed he took full responsibility (though he failed to mention that his PR guru Duncan Boothby fell on his sword) for the controversy, he also blamed Michael Hastings for his supposed lack of fairness and accuracy. However, it's telling that McChrystal has repeatedly refused to confirm or deny the accuracy of Hastings quotes when questioned by reporters. Why? Probably because he knows many of the quotes are on audiotape. ...

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April 2010 - JSOC Gardez Killing Cover-Up By McChrystals PR Staff


** DRAFT** Just before Hastings embedded with McChrystals staff, they had smeared the reputation of Jerome Starkey who British journalist who had uncovered the lies about the killings of the pregnant women at Gardez. McChrystals staff used the same playbook they used on Hastings a few months later: Lie about the incident, and try to smear the journalist when the truth comes out. ... Michael Hastings wrote in his book, The Operators, how McChrystal and his team had previously launched smear campaigns against the reporter Jerome Starkey (pp. 294-295): The access I had gotten was unprecedented. But what do you do with it? Bury the story? Write a puff piece to ensure further access? Or write what actually happened? I knew, too, that McChrystal and his team could play rough with reporters and hadnt hesitated in the past to launch personal smear campaigns against them. Three months earlier [March 2010], Jerome Starkey, a reporter for The Times of London, had broken a story about the killing of two pregnant Afghan women by a Special Forces team [on Feb. 12, 2010]. McChrystals command had tried to cover it up, originally issuing a press release and claiming to CNN that the Taliban had killed the women in an honor killing. That wasnt true and the soldiers even dug bullets out of the bodies of the Afghan women to hide the atrocity. Rather than own up to what had happened, Admiral Gregory Smith and Duncan Boothby called up rival outlets and reporters to brief against Starkey saying he wasnt a credible journalist Smith sent out a press release saying his allegations of a coverup were categorically false; the release also said he incorrectly quoted Admiral Smith. Within days, though, Starkeys reporting was confirmed by a UN investigation, an Afghan investigation, and a story in The New York Times there had been an atrocity, there had been a cover-up, and Smith and ISAD had been lying. No one on McChrystals staff, or anyone in command of the Special Forces unit responsible for the killing, was punished. ... Jeremy Scahill also wrote about McChrystals PR staffs smear of Jerome Starkey and the JSOC Gardez killings (with more detail) in his 2013 book Dirty Wars (pp. 334 346): Starkey confronted Rear Admiral Greg Smith, General McChrystals deputy chief for communications, and confronted him with the discrepancies. NATO was guilty, Smith saidof poor word choice. Within hours of his [March 13, 2010] story coming out,
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Starkey was receiving phone calls from his colleagues that NATO was briefing against me, Starkey said. NATO was trying to discredit me, trying to say the story was inaccurate, and effectively trying to kill it dead. Rear Admiral Smith had put out a statement that dispensed with the diplomacy and allusions typical of official press releases. On March 15, 2010 the New York Times report largely seconded Starkeys account of the Gardez raid In early April [on the 4th, just before Hastings embedded with McChrystals team], Starkey received an unexpected phone call Were changing our version of events. On the morning of April 8th Admiral William McRaven, JSOCs secretive commander, pulled up to the gates [to apologize]. For more than a year, I tried to get access to any documents the US military had about the incident at Gardez. I have received no documents. Starkey told me his attempts to get documents had met the same fate. ... Add Starkey quotes on attacks from #1 link: Nato covered up botched night raid in Afghanistan that killed five U.S. Is Reining In Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan NYT U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan are committing atrocities, lying, and getting away with it US Special Forces 'Tried to Cover Up' Botched Khataba Raid in Afghanistan Afghan Investigators Say U.S. Troops Tried to Cover Up Evidence in Botched Raid NYT McChrystal Probe of Special Operations Forces Killings Excluded Key Eyewitnesses (2) Why the U.S. Executive Branch Is a Clear and Present Danger to Our Democracy

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May 2009 -- Lies Borne Out by Facts, If Not the Truth


During a Alternet interview about his 2012 book The Operators Michael Hastings was asked by Robert Greenwald are there individual reporters whom you want to call out publicly for their sort of following the Pentagon line and not doing their job? He replied, Yeah. I saw a pretty egregious example with the New York Times Pentagon correspondent [Thom Shanker] who literally just published the Pentagon spokesperson's anonymous quotes when he was reporting on my stories he's got the official line from the Pentagon. ... Thom Shanker covers national security and the Pentagon for The New York Times. He joined The Times in 1997, and was assistant Washington editor before being named Pentagon correspondent in 2001. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Besides his whitewash of Gen. Stanley McChrystal in Le-Affair Rolling Stan, four years ago Shanker also whitewashed McChrystals key role in the cover-up of Pat Tillmans 2004 friendlyfire death in Afghanistan (and its worth noting that Thom Shanker also participated in the misinformation about the Jessica Lynch story in 2003). On May 11, 2009, despite McChrystals key role in the Tillman cover-up. President Obama nominated McChrystal to be his new commander of the Afghan War. In response to accusations by the Tillman family that McChrystal had been involved in a cover-up of Pat Tillmans death, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said: "this matter has been investigated thoroughly by the Pentagon, by the Congress, by outside experts, and all of them have come to the same conclusion: that there was no wrongdoing by Gen. McChrystal." The following week, the White House and Senate pushed through a new FOIA law to block the court-ordered release of torture photographs that probably included some by JSOC personnel under McChrystals command; see The Emperors General). Conveniently, on May 25, 2009, shortly before McChrystals Senate confirmation hearing, The New York Times Pentagon reporter Thom Shanker exonerated (Nomination of U.S. Afghan Commander Revives Questions in Tillman Case) McChrystal of all wrongdoing in the Tillman case. Although Shankers article was full of official government facts, my own review I sent to him (100 page document Did They Teach You How to Lie Yet?) showed that his none of his substantive assertions were truthful. During the week before the confirmation hearing, I corresponded with Shanker and sent him material which described how the Democratic Congress had whitewashed McChrystals role.
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On June 2, 2009, the Senate held a pro forma confirmation hearing; the real hearing where McChrystal discussed his role in detail was held behind closed doors in May 2008 after a secret review by Senator James Webb [see Did They Teach You How to Lie Yet? & The [Untold] Tillman Story]. Shortly after the hearing ended, Thom Shankers article covering the hearing, Nominee to Command Afghanistan Stresses Civilian Safety, [see p. 61, Lies Borne Out By Facts, If Not the Truth"] appeared on the NYTs website. However, Shanker failed to incorporate any of my new information about General McChrystals central role in the Armys cover-up of Tillmans fratricide into his article. Instead, Shanker merely recycled his same rebutted assertions (from his 5-26-09 article) that McChrystal was cleared of any wrongdoing. But later that evening, I was unable to find Thom Shankers article. It had disappeared from the NYT website sometime after 4 PM! (Luckily, I was able to find a copy of the original version that had fortuitously been posted onto the Internet). Nominee to Command Afghanistan Stresses Civilian Safety that provided coverage of the hearing had been replaced by a drastically different article, U.S. Report Finds Errors in Afghan Airstrikes. This article focused on mistaken U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan and included literally only a couple of token lines about McChrystals hearing at the very end of the article: Why did Thom Shankers original article disappear? Perhaps one of my emails sent to the NYT editors had been read by someone in the editorial food chain who made the decision to disappear Thom Shankers article? ... On June 10th, General McChrystal was confirmed by the Senate after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made an impassioned plea on the Senate floor. Shortly afterward, the Senate approved President Barack Obama's nomination of McChrystal by unanimous consent. After carrying water for the Obama administration, Thom Shanker enjoyed exceptionally good access to General McChrystal. For example, Shanker wrote: On the day [June 10, 2009] in the summer of 2009 that a Senate vote confirmed General McChrystal and elevated him to his new command and he deployed to Afghanistan, he took two reporters from the New York Times [Shanker & Schmitt] on a tour of his new rear headquarters in a sealed corridor of the Pentagon basement Isn't "access" grand? As Shanker wrote, "A book like this simply is not possible without the cooperation and trust of a large number of government officials and military officers." I'm sure the Shankers NYTs whitewash of McChrystal helped to gain the "trust" of McChrystal and others.

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And, it appears that Shankers whitewash opened doors for him at the Washington think tank Center for a New American Security (CNAS) which worked closely with McChrystal on the Afghan War surge: CNAS in Washington allowed each of us to spend 90 days [Fall 2009] as a writer in residence to work on Counterstrike. (And guess who hosted his September 2011 book release party? CNAS, of course!) Isn't the Washington establishment cozy? What's the difference between the media, the government, and "independent" think-tanks such as CNAS? It appears to be all one big incestuous blob. I didnt come away from my personal experience with the Pentagons NYT reporter Thom Shanker with any confidence in our watchdog media. Furthermore, the NYT Public Editor Clark Hoyt didn't do a thing with the binder I sent to him on September 21, 2009 spelling this all out in excruciating detail, "Lies ... Borne Out by Facts, If Not the Truth" -- Thom Shanker, The New York Times and the Whitewashing of General McChrystal's Role in the Aftermath of Pat Tillman's Death. Just a year later, on June 23, 2010, supposedly for inappropriate remarks by his staff to a Rolling Stone reporter (but also for failing to show progress in the Afghan War; see Bob Woodwards Whitewash of Gen. McChrystal), Gen. McChrystal was fired by President Obama, and he put in his retirement papers a few months later. The following year, on April 8, 2011, Gen. McChrystals reputation was restored by his being officially cleared by the Department of Defense of all wrongdoing in LeAffair Rolling Stan. The Pentagon fed their findings to NYT reporter Thom Shanker, whose piece Pentagon Inquiry Into Article Clears McChrystal and Aides claimed they found no proof of wrongdoing by the general. Shortly afterwards, on April 12, 2010, Pat Tillmans mother, Mary Tillman, received yet another slap to her face. Despite his central role in the Tillman cover-up, President Obama appointed Gen. Stanley McChrystal to lead the advisory panel of the new Joining Forces program to support military troops and their families. Michelle Obama said were proud to have him [McChrystal] on board and the White House claimed, The circumstances surrounding Pat Tillman's death have been thoroughly investigated, and General McChrystal was found to have acted honorably Since then, the newly rehabilitated McChrystal has been out on the lecture circuit (e.g. Get Motivated, etc.), pulling down lucrative speaking fees, serving on the board of directors of several corporations, and peddling his disingenuous memoir. ...
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Reporter Carl Prine also wrote in his column (Greenwald Is Wrong!, Line of Departure January 7th, 2012) about the failures of the sycophantic reporters: The confluence of celebrity generals and sycophantic DC reporters has served poorly our democracy and contributed to some of the worst journalism on battle in a half century. Too many reporters in and out of DC are stenographers, and they play to their sources instead of working hard on behalf of their readers. This is true not only of many reporters covering defense issues, but also those on every beat at every news outlet in the country. Thats one reason why ESPN did better reporting on the death of Pat Tillman than everyone in DC Mike Fish and the sports guys were outsiders not only to defense reporting but also the failed Beltway nexus of journos and generals, so they had no sacred cows to spare or VIPs to curry. They cared only about the truth. Neither did Michael Hastings express much confidence in the mainstream media during his Robert Greenwald interview: ... I called it the media military industrial complex and they call it the Pentagon Press Corps, right? And you sort of think, oh, well it means the people who kind of watch over the Pentagon and perform the media's watchdog function, but no, it's an extension of the Pentagon. For the most part. when was the last time anyone at the Pentagon broke a story that wasn't pre-approved? It's very, very rare. And I noticed this first in Iraq when things were going horribly when I was there. And the spokespeople in the military public relations apparatus would just lie to your face. Every day they would lie. And God forbid you point this out. Yeah, we all know they're lying but you're not supposed to say it, you know? We know we're getting bullshit every day, but come on, man, don't point it out -- that's not classy. With their disgraceful Michael Hastings obituary, once again, The New York Times has provided coverage (or lack thereof) that brings into question the integrity of its journalism and its ability to use what Kevin Tillman called a mountain of evidence to arrive at an honest or even sensible conclusion. Instead of an objective search for the truth of General McChrystal actions in the aftermath of Pat Tillmans death & LeAffair Rolling Stan, The Times has displayed its stenographical abilities to parrot the official government position borne out by facts, if not the truth. ... Note: For a more detailed version of this discussion , see Appendix B (Excerpts from my 2010 post "The [Untold] Tillman Story, pp. 94 101) and Appendix C: CNASs Court Stenographer Thom Shanker (excerpts from my 2009 post "He Who Shall Not Be Fact Checked"). For the full monty, with complete (excruciating) detail and documentation, see my 2009 post Lies Borne Out By Facts, If Not the Truth" at the Feral Firefighter blog.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Patience, Montag. Our civilization is flinging itself to pieces. Stand back from the centrifuge. Remember the firemen are rarely necessary. The public itself stopped reading of its own accord. You firemen provide a circus now and then at which buildings are set off and crowds gather for the pretty blaze, but its a small sideshow indeed, and hardly necessary to keep things in line. So few want to be rebels anymore. -- Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Guy Montag, M.F.L.F. Local #451

Fire gear with Tillman NFL #40 Helmet Sticker

After three years of JROTC, when he was a young & dumb seventeen year-old boy, Guy Montag enlisted with Co. F (Ranger) 425th Infantry. He spent eight years with Co. F from 1983 to 1991, completed Airborne and Ranger School, and left as a SGT leading a LRRP patrol. He graduated from U of M with two engineering degrees and was a yuppie for a couple of years with Andersen Consulting (now Accenture). He abandoned the life of a cubicle rat, and for the past 22 years hes been a professional firefighter (only 10 more years to go til retirement!). Since October 2005, Montag has closely followed the Pat Tillman story. Since 2009, hes been an amateur feral scholar (hat tip to Stan Goff) of the untold Pat Tillman story. His extensive Tillman files are at http://www.feralfirefighter.blogspot.com When hes not wasting spending time on the Tillman story, Guy Montag is an eclectic reader, works on his homestead, is a soccer mom for his son, helps (when she permits it) his bookworm daughter find new sci-fi to read, and generally neglects his long-suffering wife who is appalled at the amount of time her husband has spent on his blog over the past four years. Hes doing his part to try to avert the worst of global warming (but saving the world is only his hobby.

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APPENDIX A:
Links to Michael Hasting Obituaries, Tributes, & the NYT Obituary Controversy
** DRAFT**

News of Michael Hastings Death & Obituaries:


Michael Hastings Ben Smith, Buzzfeed.com Michael Hastings, Polk Winner, Dies in Crash at 33 Michael Hastings, 33, Winner of Polk Award, Dies Michael Hastings: Journalist who brought down an American general Commentary: Reporter created a buzz

Tributes to Michael Hastings:


Missing Michael Hastings Rachel Maddow's Moving Michael Hastings Tribute (VIDEO) Michael Hastings, 'Rolling Stone' Contributor, Dead at 33 Journalist Michael Hastings, 33, Dies in Car Crash Michael Hastings, remembered Michael Hastings, Truthteller, Dead at 33 Michael Hastings, Reporter Michael Hastings: my friend and his enemies Michael Hastings, Bridge-Burning Journalist (1980-2013) The one question a journalist should never ask Truthdigger of the Week: Michael Hastings In Baghdad With the Relentless Reporter Free Barrett Brown Offers Condolences for Michael Hastings, Urges Immediate Investigation Thank You For Your Service Remembering Michael Hastings
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Serving the Truth "Why Democrats Love to Spy on Americans": The Late Michael Hastings' Last Episode 274 Crashes of Convenience: Michael Hastings Remembering Michael Hastings CNN Airs Never Before Seen Michael Hastings Interview: I Wish Id Had A Few Thousand More Words Dirty Wars and Reporters Under Attack with Jeremy Scahill 1980 2013 Michael Hastings (Tim Dickinson, 8/01/13 Rolling Stone) Townies: Official Washingtons Latest Obsession Pulls Its Punches Remembering Michael Hastings (Peter Goldman Newsweek Memories) Piers Morgan on Michael Hastings: "He was a terrific, provocative journalist who will be really, really missed (Piers Morgan, June 18, 2013) Michael Hastings Leaves Indelible Mark on Journalism (Dylan Kelley -- Vermont Commons, June 30, 2013) Danger Man (Kim Asch Vermont Life, June 18, 2013) Remembering Michael Hastings Ali Gharib The Daily Beast, June 20, 2013

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APPENDIX B:
Pat Tillman Lies Borne Out By Facts, If Not The Truth
The New York Times Exonerates General McChrystal
[Excerpts from "The [Untold] Tillman Story" (pp. 94 101); adapted from my September 11, 2009 Letter to NYT Public Editor Clark Hoyt]

Im writing to express my concerns about The New York Times coverage of General Stanley McChrystals role in the aftermath of Pat Tillmans death. In my letter (and attached supporting documents) I argue that Washington Pentagon Reporter Thom Shanker, and his New York Times editors, whitewashed General McChrystals central role in orchestrating the cover-up of Pat Tillmans 2004 friendly fire death. Thom Shanker wrote his May 26th 2009 article, Nomination of U.S. Afghan Commander Revives Questions in Tillman Case, exonerating General McChrystal of wrongdoing in the Armys handling of Tillmans fratricide. However, although Shankers article was full of official government facts, my own review showed that his none of his substantive assertions were truthful. Thom Shanker failed to further investigate the Tillman case or write a follow-up article correcting his mistakes, even after he (and the NYT editors) received my 100 page document (that Shanker said was impressive, exhaustive and well-researched). Thom Shankers articles covering the confirmation hearing did not incorporate my new disclosures, but merely recycled his facts clearing McChrystal of wrongdoing. I believe you should question Thom Shanker and his NYT editors about their coverage of General McChrystals Senate confirmation hearing and his handling of the Pat Tillman fratricide. They should be held accountable for their actions in whitewashing General McChrystals role in the cover-up of Pat Tillmans friendly fire death. ... On May 12th 2009, President Obama nominated General Stanley McChrystal for promotion to four-star general and to become his new Commander of the Afghanistan War. On May 14th, The New York Times expressed their concerns about McChrystals nomination in their editorial, New Commander for Afghanistan: And it was General McChrystal who approved the falsified report that covered up the 2004 friendly-fire death of Cpl. Pat Tillman in Afghanistan. Before confirming him in
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his new command, senators must assure themselves that he will insist on lawful treatment of detainees and candid military reporting. Five years prior to McChrystals nomination, Pat Tillmans family were h anded a tarnished Silver Star. I felt it would be a travesty of justice if McChrystal was confirmed by the Senate, promoted to the Armys highest rank, and handed his fourth star. So, I once again took out my box of Tillman documents, and closely reviewed General McChrystals actions in the aftermath of Tillmans death. ... Senator James Webb had been a hero of mine for three decades. I hadnt always agreed with his positions, but I had never before doubted his integrity or his sense of honor. Id r ead his novels that dealt with themes of honor, loyalty, integrity, and betrayal for thirty 30 years; long before he became a U.S. Senator from Virginia in 2006. With Webbs background as a decorated Vietnam Marine, I believed he would feel a sense of kinship with Pat Tillman and his family. On May 27th, I was finishing my letter to Senator Webb that asked him to place a hold on McChrystals confirmation. In my 100 page document, Did They Teach You How to Lie Yet? Senator James Webb, General Stanley McChrystal, and the Betrayal of Pat Tillman, I argued Congress and the senior leadership of the Army had acted with a long series of investigations to shield General McChrystals actions from close scrutiny and to protect him from punishment for his central role in orchestrating the cover-up of Pat Tillmans fratricide. That evening, I read the NYT article, Nomination of U.S. Afghan Commander Revives Questions in Tillman Case. (5-26-09), written by Thom Shanker (NYT Washington Pentagon Reporter). Thom Shanker wrote that General McChrystal had been cleared of wrongdoing in the Arm ys handling of Pat Tillmans fratricide: McChrystal was not responsible for investigating the fratricide and notifying the family, had sent a timely P4 memo to warn his superiors, and had merely signed off on Tillmans misleading Silver Star citation without firsthand knowledge. However, my analysis (of the same investigative reports Thom Shanker reviewed) found General McChrystal had played a central role in the Armys cover up of Tillmans friendly fire death; none of Thom Shankers assertions clearing McChrystal of wrongdoing held up under scrutiny!: McChrystal received confirmation of Tillmans fratricide within two days yet didnt send his timely P4 memo until a week later, had the responsibility to notify the family and chose not to (the family wasnt told until 35 days later), and personally led the packaging of the Silver Star recommendation (with a false narrative and fabricated witness statements). Note: For a very detailed, point-by-point refutation of Shankers assertions, see Rebuttal of Thom Shankers Pre-Hearing Article: Nomination of U.S. Afghan Commander Revives Questions in Tillman Case.
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I e-mailed Thom Shanker that evening. I wrote that my document discussed in detail every point raised in his article and I described the highlights of my new information about the Tillman case not addressed in his article. Shortly afterwards, Thom Shanker r eplied: Please feel free to send me your material, as I would be eager to review it. The following morning, on the 28th, I sent Shanker an email containing the Word documents from Did They Teach You How to Lie Yet and an email with much of the Appendic es material. That afternoon, I sent a hard-copy of my document by Federal Express to both Thom Shanker and Senator James Webb. Thom Shanker received my document on Friday the 29 th at 9:38 AM. That afternoon, he replied to my follow-up email: Yes, it arrived. I will review your documents this weekend. Thanks. But, I was concerned that Shanker hadnt contacted me with questions about my document. And why was he waiting so long to review my materials? Was he sitting on the story? ... On Monday June 1st, I awoke to read the NYT Editorial Questions for General McChrystal. The editors wrote that General McChrystal needs to be rigorously questioned and The Senate owes the American people more than a pro forma confirmation of Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal. But, why didnt the editors mention General McChrystals actions in the aftermath of Pat Tillmans death? (In their May 14th editorial, they had raised concerns about McChrystals falsified report and his less-than candid military reporting). Was this omission due to Thom Shankers May 26th review that had cleared General McChrystal of any wrongdoing? I immediately emailed Thom Shanker, Why isn't there any mention of McCh rystal's role in the handling of the Tillman case? Will the NYT be publishing a follow up to your May 26th article before the confirmation hearing? Shanker replied: any question about an editorial should be directed to The Times editorial board, and not to a newsroom reporter. Do you have any sense at all that Senators will be pressing on the Tillman case? Again, thanks for the very detailed and voluminous file you sent. It was very well researched and quite thorough. Well, its always nice to receive praise, but why wasnt Thom Shanker pressing the Senators on the Tillman case? Why wasnt Shanker questioning his Congressional sources? Why wasnt he doing anything to follow up on the revelations in my document? Later that morning, I tried again: Could you please answer my question? Are you going to publish a follow-up to your May 26th piece based on my document or any other information you've received? If not, why not? Why did you even bother to raise questions about McChrystal and Tillman in your May 26th article?

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Thom Shanker replied: At this point there will not be a follow-on story on the Tillman investigation prior to the hearing, although we will see what the hearing brings up tomorrow. See what the hearing brings up? Couldnt Shanker play a more active role? He was very familiar with the Tillman case after writing his May 26th article (which I had discredited). Why wasnt he doing further investigation? ... I decided to take Thom Shankers advice that any question about an editorial should be directed to The Times editorial board, and not to a newsroom reporter. On Monday afternoon, June 1st, I sent the following email to the NYT editors (Letters to the Editor, Editorial Page Editor, News Dept., the Executive Editor, the Managing Editor, News-Tips, National Newsroom, and the Washington Newsroom. Unfortunately I neglected to email the Public Editor): I was surprised that your editorial today, Questions for General McChrystal, did not mention General McChrystals role in the aftermath of Pat Tillmans fratricide. Ive been corresponding with Thom Shanker, your NYT Pentagon correspondent, since last Wednesday in reference to his May 26th article Nomination of US Afghan Commander Revives Questions in Tillmans Case. Last Thursday, I FedExed my 100 page document to him detailing new disclosures of General McChrystals central role in the whitewash of Tillmans death. However, it doesnt appear that Thom Shanker is following up with another article. I think the NYT editorial board would find it useful to speak with him and get a copy of this document before tomorrows June 2nd confirmation hearing of General McChrystal before the Senate Armed Services Committee (or read my letters below and attachments). Below, you can read my May 27th letter to Thom Shanker and my letter to Senator Webb. If you would like more information, Ive also attached many of the documents in the package I sent to Thom Shanker. I never received a response to my email from any of the editors at The New York Times (At the time, I hoped that an editor might prod Shanker into a follow-up story on the Tillman case). ... On June 2nd 2009, the Senate Armed Services Committee held General McChrystals confirmation hearing. However, the hearing was just a pro forma confirmation and the Senators did not rigorously question McChrystal. David Corn commented on PBSs News Hour: And so the Pat Tillman questioning I thought, seemed very orchestrated and didn't give a full airing a lot of what happened today made it clear to me that Democrats and Republicans had both decided, "He's our guy in Afghanistan

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Shortly after the hearing ended, Thom Shankers article covering the hearing, Nominee to Command Afghanistan Stresses Civilian Safety, [see p. 61] appeared on the NYTs website. However, Shanker failed to incorporate any of my new information about General McChrystals central role in the Armys cover-up of Tillmans fratricide into his article. Instead, Shanker merely recycled his same rebutted assertions (from his 5-26-09 article) that McChrystal was cleared of any wrongdoing. In addition, Thom Shanker failed to note three new revelations from McChrystals testimony: 1. McChrystals new account of when and where he first learned of Tillmans fratricide contradicted his previous testimony and the testimony of General Abizaid and COL Nixon. Their accounts over the course of several investigations simply didnt match up. McChrystal, Abizaid, and/or Nixon gave false testimony before the investigators and/or Congress. 2. General Wallace cleared McChrystal since he only signed off on the Silver Star recommendation and had no reasonable basis to question the recommendation. But, McChrystal testified he was in Afghanistan and led the Ranger officers during the Silver Star recommendation process! He didnt just sign off on a piece of paper that just dropped onto his desk! 3. General McChrystal publicly confirmed the existence of last years secret review prior to his 2008 confirmation hearing: You gave me the opportunity to discuss in detail one of those failures, Corporal Pat Tillman, in closed session with this committee a year ago, in advance of my confirmation as Director of the Joint Staff Obviously, the real confirmation hearing took place last year behind closed doors. Why didnt Thom Shanker (or any other reporter) follow-up and ask the Senators what the Senators learned during last years executive session when McChrystals actions were discussed in detail? ... But later that evening, I was unable to find Thom Shankers article. It had disappeared from the NYT website sometime after 4 PM! (Luckily, I was able to find a copy of the original version that had fortuitously been posted onto the Internet). Nominee to Command Afghanistan Stresses Civilian Safety that provided coverage of the hearing had been replaced by a drastically different article, U.S. Report Finds Errors in Afghan Airstrikes. This article focused on mistaken U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan and included literally only a couple of token lines about McChrystals hearing at the very end of the article: Why did Thom Shankers original article disappear? Perhaps one of my emails sent to the NYT editors had been read by someone in the editorial food chain who made the decision to disappear Thom Shankers article?
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... After cooling off for a few days, on June 5th, I emailed Thom Shanker and asked why he never did a follow up on the Tillman case using my new information: I still dont understand why you didn't write a follow-up to your article last week Nomination of U.S. Afghan Commander Revives Questions in Tillman Case. You wrote that Unless new information on General McChrystals role in the episode emerges between now and his confirmation hearing, set for June 2nd, the question is not expected to figure heavily in the Senate debate." Could you please explain to me why my document wasnt sufficient to prompt you to write a follow-up article? Or at least include some of my information in your June 2nd article about the hearing? I would welcome any criticism from you of my arguments or facts contained in my document. Thom Shanker replied: Thank you for your note. Your research is exhaustive and impressive. My question back to you would be: Why are even senators who were most outspoken in criticism of the handling of the Tillman case -- in particular Senator Webb, who has figured extensively in your research and in comments by the Tillman family -- now expressing satisfaction with the public resolution of the inquiries and now, apparently, ready to confirm General McChrystal next week? Remember, as I know you do, that the legislative branch is a key check and balance not only of the executive, but of the military. It controls funding and confirmation to senior general officer jobs. Again, thanks for sharing your impressive work with me. On June 6th, I once again tried to get an answer from Thom Shanker as to why he didnt followup on my disclosures: I would guess that Webb, and the other senators, think McChrystal is the best man to lead the Afghan escalation and are willing to forgive his central role in the cover-up of Tillman's fratricide. And they all know that McChrystal was just obeying orders from Rumsfeld and the White House to get out good PR at a bad time (Abu Gharib, etc.). Besides, now the senators are stuck with the "hot potato." They're the last link in the chain of "investigations" into the handling of the Tillman case. They've got to cover their own ass now. But my question for you still remains unanswered. Despite your praise for my document as "exhaustive", "impressive", and "well researched" none of my findings appeared in your following articles concerning the Tillman case. Wouldn't my 100 page document qualify as "new information"? (or are only official government leaks considered
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authoritative enough to appear in print?) Could you please explain to me why my document wasnt sufficient to prompt you to write a follow-up to your May 26th article? Or at least include some of my findings in your June 2nd article about the hearing as a counterpoint to the official government position? I never received a response from Thom Shanker. Perhaps I shouldnt have needled him a little with my with my government leaks remark (referring to Thom Shankers NYT coverage of the Jessica Lynch coverage in 2004). ... Despite Thom Shankers praise for my document, Did They Teach You How to Lie Yet? as "exhaustive", "impressive", and "well researched", he never used its revelations to follow-up on his deeply flawed May 26th review Nomination of U.S. Afghan Commander Revives Questions in Tillman Case that supposedly cleared General McChrystal of any wrongdoing. Why not? Im still puzzled as to who was responsible for posing the questions [that] have surfaced again after General McChrystals nomination to be the top American commander in Afghanistan.? Who at the NYT prompted Thom Shanker to write his May 26th article? Who decided to disappear Shankers June 2nd article about the hearing? [Note: Mary Tillman sent an email and letter to President Obama on May 12th criticizing McChrystals nomination. Did the NYT editorial questions have surfaced again refer to her letter? I now believe that Thom Shanker wrote his May 26th specifically to exonerate McChrystal of all wrong-doing for the Obama administration. Afterwards, the politicians could all point to his article as proof that McChrystal had been cleared of all wrong-doing by the Gray Lady, the paper of record.] I think Shankers post-hearing article was disappeared after some NYT editor got my letter and got a bit nervous that someone might cast a critical eye at Shankers hearing coverage given my revelations. Better safe, than sorry; pull the piece. ... In the Tillman case, Thom Shanker and The New York Times bear the dishonor of playing the final role in the Tillman cover-up story. The New York Times laid the topmost layer upon the tall stack of Army and Congressional cover-ups (investigations) of the Tillman fratricide. Once again, as in the Jessica Lynch case, The New York Times has provided coverage (or lack thereof) that brings into question the integrity of its journalism and its ability to use what Kevin Tillman called a mountain of evidence to arrive at an honest or even sensible conclusion. Instead of an objective search for the truth of General McChrystal actions in the aftermath of Pat Tillmans death, The New York Times has displayed its stenographical abilities to parrot the official government position borne out by facts, if not the truth. Note: I never received a response from the NYT Public Editor Clark Hoyt.
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APPENDIX C:
Thom Shanker CNAS Court Stenographer In Residence
[Excerpts and Guy Montags commentary on CNASs Andrew Exums blog Abu Mugawama from my 2009 post "He Who Shall Not Be Fact Checked"]

Top National Security Reporters Eric Schmitt & Thom Shanker Join CNAS as Writers in Residence CNAS -- October 15, 2009
The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) is pleased to announce that distinguished journalists Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker, who cover terrorism, the military, and national security for The New York Times, will join CNAS as Senior Writers in Residence in November 2009. While at CNAS, Schmitt and Shanker will work on a book titled "Counterstrike," an examination of the evolution of American counterterrorism strategy since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Working closely with CNAS scholars and leadership, Writers in Residence can take advantage of the full spectrum of the Centers resources and expertise. Thom Shanker covers national security and the Pentagon for The New York Times. He joined The Times in 1997, and was assistant Washington editor before being named Pentagon correspondent in 2001. In Afghanistan, he was the first newspaper reporter since Vietnam to be allowed to embed with Army Special Forces in combat, joining Green Berets at Kandahar, and has since embedded with numerous units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. ...

Civil-Military Relations in the Obama Era


May 17, 2010 | Posted by Abu Muqawama - 11:50am | 46 Comments This article by Jonathan Alter in Newsweek on how Obama tamed his generals is great and worth reading -- although not necessarily for the reasons the author intended. As veteran media critics have noted, a growing number of "journalists" have exchanged ridiculously uncritical coverage of this administration for the kind of high-level access necessary to write "insider" books on the administration. This article is -- surprise! -- an excerpt from one of those insider accounts. Nothing in this article seriously challenges the administration's version of events, Alter's "journalism" more closely resembles court stenography than a public service. ...
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Comment by Carl Prine on May 17, 2010 - 5:18pm 'Alter's "journalism" more closely resembles court stenography than a public service.*' Coming from a CNAS voice, that's rich. Perhaps CENTCOM might get him to join a Joint Strategic Assessment Team or pen books while serving fellowships at the think tank. That will cure his ethical ailments. Are you serious? Comment by Visitor [Guy Montag] on May 17, 2010 - 8:17pm @ Carl Prine: Alter's "journalism" more closely resembles court stenography than a public service.' Coming from a CNAS voice, that's rich. Perhaps CENTCOM might get him to join a Joint Strategic Assessment Team or pen books while serving fellowships at the think tank" Nice, subtle poke at AM and the NYT's Thom Shanker. "Perhaps CENTCOM might get him to join a Joint Strategic Assessment Team" refers to AM's field trip last summer ("'This [Afghan War Assessment] was written with about a dozen talented and good-natured co-authors (and the world's most intense lead author [General McChrystal]) who put up with my smart-assery -- often in enclosed spaces-- for a whole month".) Does "... or pen books while serving fellowships at the think tank" refer to the NYT's Pentagon Reporter Thom Shanker? Last fall, Shanker worked on his book while a "writer in residence" at CNAS. Last year, he wrote a piece clearing McChrystal of all wrongdoing in the aftermath of Tillman's death. ("May 26, 2009 "Nomination of U.S. Afghan Commander Revives Questions in Tillman Case") despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. There's some stenography for you! Alter's journalism more closely resembles court stenography than a public service. Carl Prine: Coming from a CNAS voice, that's rich. Perhaps CENTCOM might get him to join a Joint Strategic Assessment Team or pen books while serving fellowships at the think tank. That will cure his ethical ailments. Are you serious? Nice, subtle poke at AM and the NYT's Thom Shanker. Last fall, Shanker worked on his book while a "writer in residence" at CNAS. Last year, he wrote a piece clearing McChrystal of all wrongdoing in the aftermath of Tillman's death. ("May 26, 2009 - "Nomination of U.S. Afghan Commander Revives Questions in Tillman Case") despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. There's some stenography for you! ...

Journalist FAIL
June 15, 2010 | Posted by Abu Muqawama - 4:13pm | 37 Comments I was not among those who criticized the article James Risen wrote about the $1 trillion mineral find in Afghanistan. I really respect the men and women who report on national security issues for our daily newspapers and still subscribe to an old-fashioned newspaper that arrives on my doorstep each morning. And I grew up in the newspaper industry.
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... Comment by Guy Montag on June 17, 2010 - 12:32pm "I really respect the men and women who report on national security issues for our daily newspapers and still subscribe to an old-fashioned newspaper that arrives on my doorstep each morning." Well, I don't have any respect for the New York Times Washington Pentagon reporter Thom Shanker. After his May 26, 2009 article which "exonerated" McChrystal of all wrong-doing in the Pat Tillman case, I corresponded with him last year just before Gen. McChrystal's Senate confirmation hearing. I pointed out just how McChrystal played the central role in the Army's whitewash of the Tillman case. What did he do with it? Nothing, just printed the same falsehoods (although the NYT "disappeared" his hearing article shortly after it appeared on the blogosphere). P.S. By the way, Thom Shanker was put up by CNAS as their "writer-in-residence last fall. ...

Rolling Stone
June 22, 2010 | Posted by Abu Muqawama - 12:01am | 51 Comments No, I have not read the Rolling Stone article on Gen. McChrystal. I have now read the article, and it is not good. What the hell was Duncan Boothby thinking setting up this article with a freelance writer (who can burn bridges more easily than someone at, say, the New York Times) who already has bias against the strategy? This is just awful media management ... Comment by Guy Montag on June 22, 2010 - 12:27pm "What the hell was Duncan Boothby thinking setting up this article with a freelance writer (who can burn bridges more easily than someone at, say, the New York Times) who already has bias against the strategy? This is just awful media management, because the writer neither gives a flip as to whether or not his article might complicate the success of the mission nor has any interest in lending any balance to his own conclusions. Head slap." ... Exactly. Why risk talking to someone you can't count on being a stenographer for the powersthat-be? Perhaps AM's was referring to Thom Shanker when he wrote "someone at, say, the New York Times"? Thom Shanker is the NYT Washington Pentagon Reporter who wrote the May 26th article that "exonerated" Gen. McChrystal of all wrong-doing in the Tillman case. Absolute BS, of which Shanker is well aware. But, apparently this sucking up is necessary to retain "access". What a piece of work.

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Beers on the Table: Journalists and the Public Figures They Cover
June 25, 2010 | Posted by Abu Muqawama - 8:50am | 78 Comments Now that Gen. McChrystal is gone and consensus has formed that President Obama was well within his rights to have fired him, it's worth going back and looking anew at the Rolling Stone piece that got him fired. others seized on a comment in the Politico that this would likely not have happened had Michael Hastings, the Rolling Stone reporter, not been a free-lance. The logic is that a reporter from the New York Times or the Washington Post would have been more servile to the people they cover because they do not want to burn their sources. After enduring some members of the White House press corps who do, frankly, seem to exchange favorable coverage of the administration for access, I can understand their complaint. ... Comment by Carl Prine on June 26, 2010 - 12:40pm There's a balance between There's a balance between burning sources and telling the truth. What doesn't surprise me about the Rolling Stone piece is that it didn't depend on currying sources to gain access. He was granted access by McChrystal's command. They sought to pick someone to communicate their quibbles over the withdrawal deadline and some personalities in the civilian oversight of the war. They chose Hastings over many other journos who routinely solicit McChrystal's PR staff for access. Why should they wish to do so? Perhaps to communicate to the American left in a forum they believed they could control (and which explains McChrystal's Marshall-slapping disclosure that he voted for Obama). Perhaps because Hastings had done good work for Newsweek and other periodicals and had spent time in the field. Perhaps because Rolling Stone had through "Generation Kill" and other stories endeared itself to the unconventional community of warriors. For whichever reason, McChrystal's staff chose the medium for their message, realizing that both were the same. Sometimes there are beer-on-the-table moments that stay on the record. Sources sometimes drink. You can't avoid that, but you're careful to weigh what they say against the likelihood of intoxication. If the sources were on the record and weren't drunk, then it would have been wrong for Hastings to fail to use their words. More telling for those with military backgrounds perhaps wasn't the salty slurs tossed at those in the chain of command or concern (that happens all the time), but rather that the general never seemed to correct any of staffers in front of a reporter. If McChrsytal had even once ordered his men to STFU about Jones or Biden or anyone else, would he have been in any trouble? Probably not. And I don't doubt that Hastings would've included that moment in his portrayal. But the commanders have determined that for now it's better to never have any press coverage, or rather stenography that they can completely control, than what most reporters do.

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Ethically, I can't do what the commanders wanted to do. Those ground rules are abhorrent to the professional reporter and shouldn't be honored. If the commanders want to send out a press release in lieu of journalism, I'll point them to the nearest fax machine. Which brings me to the larger point: Rather than fulminate over problems with the ground rules, in re Hastings, a military blog might confront the larger issues of civ-mil relations, questions about command climate and the apparent need for GOs to speak directly to partisan segments of the American population through mass media, instead of letting these questions be answered by those perhaps more Constitutionally (and constitutionally) adept at the practice. I don't have those answers. In answer to the anonymous reporter above, perhaps his job was so easy because he wasn't really doing it. Asking hard questions, making sources (especially those with great power) and trying to see reality as it is and not as the needs for access would order it kind of is what we do. Yes, it's hard. If it wasn't, then anyone could be a reporter.

...

Incorporating Direct Action Special Operations into COIN


August 2, 2010 | Posted by Abu Muqawama - 4:26pm | 13 Comments An American friend from the Middle East who has recently spent time covering the war in Afghanistan had the same question I did upon reading this article in the New York Times: "How can my colleagues not understand that COIN involves killing?" First off, I note this article was not written by Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt, both of whom have reported extensively on U.S. special operations in Afghanistan and Iraq for the New York Times and who are writing a book together on the subject. Second, direct-action special operations played an integral and well-documented role in U.S. counterinsurgency operations [by JSOC led by Gen. McChrystal] in Iraq during the Baghdad security operations of 2007. They are most effective, in fact, when incorporated into a larger operational framework such as counterinsurgency. I wrote a short piece on the false dichotomy between "COIN" and "CT" for this blog's responsible cousins at the Small Wars Journal last year. Click here (.pdf) to read it. Because I was shaking my head as vigorously as anyone else as I read that article this past weekend. ... Comment by Guy Montag on August 2, 2010 - 6:35pm Your previous post [A New Standard for Objective Journalism at the CJR?] bemoaned the lack of "objective" journalism.

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Thom Shanker is a perfect example of such journalism as stenography, never subjecting the lies of his sources to critical analysis, no matter how stupid. You mentioned Thom's working on a book on special operations. He spent a month as a "writer-in-residence" last November at CNAS working on that book. A little payback for his 5-26-09 NYT article "exonerating" Gen. McChrystal of all wrong-doing in the Tillman case?

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APPENDIX D:
CNASs Andrew Exums Whitewash of Gen. McChrystal
HE WHO SHALL NOT BE FACT-CHECKED
[Adapted from "He Who Shall Not Be Fact Checked" and pp. 144 152, "The [Untold] Tillman Story"]
From the time I was very little, I was aware of my fathers pride in being a Marine. When I was three years old I would stand between my parents, feet digging into the soft leather of the big front seat, and sing the entire Marine Corps Hymn at the top of my lungs. -- Mary Tillman, Boots on the Ground by Dusk (2008)

CNAS CEO Nathaniel Fick

[ Draft letter October 31, 2009]

Andrew Exum is a Fellow at your Washington think-tank Center for a New American Security (CNAS) which has been called "Washington's go-to think tank on military affairs." CNAS spearheaded the advocacy of the Afghan war "surge" and has close ties with both General McChrystal and his mentor General Petraeus. During your GQ interview, you said: We've sent one of our fellows, Andrew Exum, to serve on General McChrystal's assessment team, and we meet with General McChrystal via videoconference once a week to talk about strategy there. In 2002, Andrew Exum served as an infantry LT in Afghanistan (described in his book This Mans Army) and again with the Ranger RGT in 2004. Last year, you were named one of GQ's 50 most powerful people in Washington. During 2003, you led a Marine Recon platoon during the invasion of Iraq (as described in your fine book One Bullet Away, in Evan Wrights Generation Kill, and HBOs excellent Generation Kill mini-series). You both appeared to be excellent LTs back in the day. In his September 13th 2009 Washington Post review of Jon Krakauers book, Where Men Win Glory The Odyssey of Pat Tillman, Andrew Exum dismissed the notion of a conspiracy to cover-up Pat Tillmans friendly fire death and excused the actions by his fellow Ranger officers as a gross error of judgment (General McChrystal was not mentioned at all). However, Exum failed to disclose his close personal and professional ties with McChrystal which created a serious conflict of interest. On November 1st 2009 "Meet the Press, (and his October 14th 2009 Daily Beast article) Jon Krakauer accused General McChrystal of lying about his central role in the Armys cover-up of Pat Tillmans friendly-fire death. In response, Andrew Exum posted, On Martial Virtue and Selling Jon Krakauers Crappy New Book, writing, Stan McChrystal stands out as probably
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the least culpable guy in Tillmans chain of command Stan McChrystal is one of the finest men I have ever known, and I hope I have sons who serve under men like him. I had believed that Andrew Exum and CNAS were part of the bipartisan conspiracy that has whitewashed General McChrystal and that Exum wrote his book review to whitewash General McChrystals role. Now, I believe Andrew Exum is either awfull y good at feigning selfrighteous outrage or is woefully (and willfully) ignorant of the most basic facts of the Tillman case. Its possible Exum believes his own bullshit about General McChrystal. As the saying goes, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." Regardless, both Exum and CNAS obviously had personal and professional conflicts of interests with Exum writing a book review favorable to the Army and General McChrystal. Clearly, despite (or because of) his background as an Army Ranger officer in Afghanistan, he was a poor choice to review Jon Krakauers book. Apparently Exum hasnt forgotten lessons learned from his stint as an Army journalist. In This Mans Army he wrote, When reporting as a journalist for the army, you quickly learn there is no news but good news. I put my Ivy League English degree to use writing shallow propaganda. I made it a game to see just how falsely positive I could be. At the end of the summer, the Dept of Public Affairs in Washington DC named me one of the armys Outstanding Journalists. I had earned my first medal from the army for writing in a newspaper. Im disappointed by the lack of integrity displayed by Exums involvement in the Tillman coverup. Perhaps thats to be expected once you leave your uniform behind, become a suit and become part of the politics of Washington. As Exum wrote in his book, officers are often looking out for their own futures rather than for the safety and good of their men. So much for your Marines Corps motto of semper fidelis and Exums Ranger Creed, Never shall I fail my comrades! Neither you nor Exum have had the back of the Tillman family. P.S. Heres an excerpt from Generation Kill (p. 363, paperback): Fick and I met in Washington during Bushs second inauguration. Somehow we wound up sitting on bleachers near the parade route As the presidents black Cadillac DTS rolled in front of us, Fick leaned forward His windows are rolled up? Fick asked. During several weeks of combat in Iraq, Im not sure I ever heard Fick raise his voice in anger. Now, Fick let loose a stream of Marine Corps-grade epithets. basically he called the president a big pussy. What about all those Americans driving around in Iraq and Afghanistan in open Humvees/ Fick shouted. You cant even put your window down in Washington? I miss that LT Fick (with a touch of PTSD), before you became a suit at CNAS. Too bad, as a Washington suit, you (and Exum) have betrayed the soldiers who have been killed or wounded in the Afghan surge.

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Note: For more recent updates about Nate Fick &Andrew Exum, see the Postscripts to Appendix D in my April 2012 post Something to Die For. Postscript July 22, 2013: As I noted last year in my post, Something to Die For (see Appendices) Nate Fick left CNAS in late 2012 to become the CEO of Endgame. At the time of his death in a fiery car crash Michael Hastings was working on a story about alleged Anonymous leader Barrett Brown. Currently under federal indictment on charges related to computer hacking, Brown is the journalist who first reported on a shadowy private security firm in Atlanta called Endgame. In the piece, Was The Fiery Death Of Journalist Michael Hastings Connected To Atlanta Security Firm Called Endgame?, legalschnauzer.blogspot.com speculated on the possible connections between Endgame & Hastings death: The Web site freebarrettbrown.org reports that Hastings was planning to interview Brown in late June and had announced to his followers, "Get ready for your mind to be blown." A Hastings/Brown interview almost certainly would have included questions about Brown's research on "black hat" private security firms that work with the official U.S. intelligence community. Primary among such firms is Endgame, which is based on the seventh floor of the former Biltmore Hotel building in Atlanta. Before the interview could take place, Hastings was killed when his car exploded, with the engine blown some sixty feet from the wreckage on a Los Angeles street. Were individuals connected to Endgame and the U.S.Chamber--fearing possible exposure in governmentsponsored wrongdoing--involved in Michael Hastings' death? And more speculation at the piece, Uncle Sam's hackers: A new theory of the death of Michael Hastings

Postscript October 30, 2013: Andrew Exum announced he is leaving CNAS and quitting his Abu Mugawama blog. In response to his last post, I left four (nice) comments. Unfortunately, Exum didnt put any of them up. For details, see the Postscripts to Appendix D in my April 2012 post Something to Die For.

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APPENDIX E: Excerpts and Annotations from Gen. Stanley McChrystals Memoir My Share of the Task
275 It was Nov 19, 2011 and I was once again in Afghanistan. It had been seventeen months since Id left on a June evening [June 21, 2010] amid controversy over a magazine article. ... 378 At the end of February 2010 I received an e-mail from a staff sergeant I dont believe you fully understand the situation we face in this district, and I think you should come down and see it up close. I met Arroyos platoon. After a short brief we went on a combat patrol. . later [April 2010] I got another e-mail from Sergeant Arroyo informing me that Mike Ingram had been killed not far from where we patrolled. I felt like I needed to see and listen to the platoon again. With us would be a reporter from Rolling Stone [Michael Hastings] who was periodically interacting with our team, to give him an appreciation for the difficult of the task they faced. 380 Some were openly bitter over their loss and the seeming impossibility of their mission. Why are we here, Sir? Whats the point? For many, I lacked the eloquence to assuage their concerns and could only explain the strategy they were a part of. ... 384 On April 14, 2010, we [command staff] flew to Europe, conducting a short visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels and then continuing to Paris We had an itinerary of office calls, ceremonies, a dinner an ash cloud closed most of Europes airspace for the next five days reaching Berlin by a lengthy bus ride. Our schedule there was similar to that in Paris on Friday, April 16 I took Annie [wife] for dinner at a small French restaurant to celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary. 387 On Monday, June 21 [2010] About 2:00 am Charlie Flynn woke me. The Rolling Stone article is out, and its really bad. How in the world could that story have been a problem?The article was the work of a reporter [Michael Hastings] writing for Rolling Stone magazine who had interacted with my command team several times over the previous several months, including parts of our April trip to Europe. This story, one of a number wed done over the year in Afghanistan, was designed to provide transparency into how my command team operated. 109 By nature I tended to trust people and was typically open and transparent with colleagues and subordinates. But such transparency could go astray when others saw us out of context or when I gave trust to those few who were unworthy of it.
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387 But, beginning with the provocative title, The Runaway General, [the title on the cover was Obamas General: Why Hes Losing the War] the article described a hard-charging general, a struggling US policy, and attributed a number of unacceptable comments to my command team. I was surprised at the tone and direction of the article. I thought back to the night of Annies and my thirty-third wedding anniversary in Paris. Annie felt the brotherhood among the soldiers was evident and was something the reporter needed to see and understand. I had agreed with her. The printed story cast it in a very different light.. Regardless of how I judged the story for fairness or accuracy, responsibility was mine. 387 That evening, as the controversy swelled, I was directed to fly back to D.C. for meetings the following morning with the secretary of defense and the president. a number of emails came in. One in particular struck me. A member of Staff Sergeant Arroyos platoon whod been present at the meeting described in the Rolling Stone article expressed frustration with the account, and his support. 388 From the moment Id seen the article, Id known there were different options on how to act, and react, to the storm I knew I would face. But I knew only one decision was right for the moment and the mission. I left the White House after a short, professional meeting with President Obama and drove to Fort McNair to tell Annie that the President had accepted my resignation. I told her my life in the Army was over. ... 390 Life would go on. In April 2011, the DoD IGs office would release a summary of its review into the allegations outlined in the Rolling Stone article. The investigation could not substantiate any violations of DoD standards and found that not all of the events occurred as portrayed in the Rolling Stone article. These conclusions came out quietly, almost a year after the tornado of controversy the article created, but they were important to me. ...

Note: no mention MH; *****, vs TO

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APPENDIX F: Excerpts & Annotations From Michael Hastings Book The Operators
[Excerpts from the Feral Firefighter posts NEVER SHALL I FAIL MY COMRADES and SOMETHING TO DIE FOR] ** DRAFT** See also STDF & NFC pp **, wrote a book about it, compare to SM4! [Gen. McChrystals Senate confirmation] hearings are scheduled for the first week of June [June 2, 2009]. [Duncan Boothby] starts working on McChrystals congressional confirmation [to lead the Afghan War]. Duncan knows it could be a tough fight. McChrystals role in the coverup of the friendly-fire death of Pat Tillman is going to come up; Camp Nama, a base in Iraq that McChrystal was linked to after allegations of torture there were reported, is going to come up. These two red flags, seemingly ignored by Gates and Obama20, wouldnt likely be dismissed by the media.21

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20

First, on May 12th, the day after Obamas nomination of McChrystal, President Obama back-pedaled on his April 23rd decision to allow the court-ordered release of photos showing detainee abuse at facilities other than Abu Gharaib (presumably, some of the photos showed abuse by JSOC forces under McChrystals command (e.g. Camp Nama) that would have led to difficulties with his confirmation). Anticipating they would lose their court appeal, the White House worked with the Senate to draft a bill to block the release of the detainee photos by changing the language of the Freedom of Information Act. On May 20th, the Detainee Photographic Records Protection Act was introduced, and passed by the Senate the next day by unanimous consent (this bill was finally signed into law by President Obama on October 28, 2009). Although Glenn Greenwald [salon.com) railed against President Obamas actions, he failed to make the connection between McChrystals nomination, Obamas abrupt back-pedaling on the release of the photos, the introduction of the McChrystal Protection Act, and McChrystals pending Senate confirmation hearing. Second, I find it difficult to believe that no one warned Obama that McChrystal was at the center of the Armys cover-up of Pat Tillmans friendly-fire death. Ironically, on May 13, 2009, just a couple of days after his nomination, President Obama gave a commencement address at Arizona State University held inside Sun Devil Stadium without once mentioning Pat Tillmans name. Apparently, President Obama didnt want to risk raising the issue of McChrystals role in the cover-up by mentioning Pat Tillman at the very stadium in which he had once played (Bob Young, a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic, was the only journalist who wrote about this omission in his piece, Obamas Big-Time Fumble). [For more details, see pp. 18 -21, The Emperors General] 101

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Charlie [Flynn] opens up an office in the basement of the Pentagon. Its down in the National Military Command Center (NMCC) 22 The press had been complicit enablers before the Iraq invasion, failing in their watchdog role23, focusing less on truth and accuracy and more on whether the campaign [to sell the war] was succeeding.

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154 Julian [German journalist] was prepared to take ownership of the position he took and the consequences of it. Id rarely heard an American journalist express any such regrets or take responsibility for the policies they had promoted.24
21

On the contrary, shortly before McChrystals Senate hearing, The New York Times published their Pentagon reporter Thom Shankers piece, Nomination of U.S. Afghan Commander Revives Questions on Tillman Case (May 25, 2009). His piece supposedly exonerated General McChrystal of all wrongdoing in the Tillman scandal. However, Shanker ignored clear evidence of McChrystal s central handson role. During the week before the confirmation hearing, I corresponded with Shanker and sent him material which described in how the Democratic Congress had whitewashed McChrystals role. However, Shanker's post-hearing piece continued to parrot the government's official line (interestingly, the NYT's editors disappeared his original June 2nd article from their website within a few hours after it was published). [See Lies Borne Out By Facts, If Not the Truth" -- Senator James Webb, Thom Shanker & The New York Times and the Whitewash of General McChrystals Role in the Aftermath of Pat Tillmans Death or the condensed version in pp. 94-101, "The [Untold] Tillman Story"]
22

As previously mentioned, NYT Pentagon reporter Thom Shanker had supposedly exonerated Gen. McChrystal of all wrong-doing in the Tillman cover-up just before the confirmation hearing. Afterwards, Shanker enjoyed exceptional access to General McChrystal. For example, he wrote, On the day [June 10, 2009] in the summer of 2009 that a Senate vote confirmed General McChrystal and elevated him to his new command and he deployed to Afghanistan, he took two reporters from the New York Times [Tom Shanker & Eric Schmitt] on a tour of his new rear headquarters in a sealed corridor of the Pentagon basement [p.83, Counterstrike] Isn't "access" grand? As Shanker wrote, "A book like this simply is not possible without the cooperation and trust of a large number of government officials and military officers." I'm sure Shankers whitewash of McChrystal helped to gain the "trust" of McChrystal and others. [see pp.94 104, "The [Untold] Tillman Story and for exhaustive detail, Lies Borne Out By Facts, If Not the Truth" -- Senator James Webb, Thom Shanker & The New York Times and the Whitewash of General McChrystals Role in the Aftermath of Pat Tillmans Death]
23

I didnt come away from my personal experience with Thom Shanker with any confidence in our watchdog media. Similarly, Michael Hastings said [Scott Hortons, The Operators; Six Questions for Michael Hastings, Jan. 20, 2012]: I also came to consider the Pentagon press corps not as a watchdog of the Pentagon, but an extension of the Pentagon. This was a critical insight for me. Amen!
24

They're these foreign policy experts who were just dead wrong. And so how do you deal with that? How do you come to terms with that? And my answer to that would be I don't think they came to terms 102

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Note: see *** 294 The access Id gotten was unprecedented. But what do you do with it? Write a puff piece to ensure further access? Or write what actually happened? I knew, too, that McChrystal and his team could play rough with reporters and hadnt hesitated in the past to launch personal smear campaigns against them. 294 Three months earlier [March 2010], Jerome Starkey, a reporter for The Times of London, had broken a story about the killing of two pregnant Afghan women by a Special Forces team [on Feb. 12, 2010]. McChrystals command had tried to cover it up, originally issuing a press release and claiming to CNN that the Taliban had killed the women in an honor killing. That wasnt true and the soldiers even dug bullets out of the bodies of the Afghan women to hide the atrocity. 294 Rather than own up to what had happened, Admiral Gregory Smith and Duncan Boothby called up rival outlets and reporters to brief against Starkey saying he wasnt a credible journalist Smith sent out a press release saying his allegations of a coverup were categorically false; the release also said he incorrectly quoted Admiral Smith. Within da ys, though, Starkeys reporting was confirmed by a UN investigation, an Afghan investigation, and a story in The New York Times there had been an atrocity, there had been a cover-up, and Smith and ISAD had been lying. No one on McChrystals staff, or anyone in command of the Special Forces unit responsible for the killing, was punished. 300 I got another text. McChrystal had issued an apology. They werent denying itwhich would have been difficult anyway because of the tape recordings and notes I had of the interviews. And they werent personally attacking me yet, either. By apologizing, they had confirmed the validity of the story. I was relieved. 291 I had seventy pages of single-spaced notes, over twenty hours of audio reportings

with it well. As you see when they lash out. And you can't ever forget the impact of the complete failure of many of the top names in the media when it comes to the Iraq war. And we've never come to terms with it. They just can't. The guys who were the worst offenders cannot come to terms with their moral responsibility in terms of waging the war in Iraq. And you think they would have learned with Afghanistan to question more and to not just cheerlead the whole thing. The fact that every journalist in the Pentagon Press Corps wasn't standing up when they were going to escalate in Afghanistan and saying, 'are you guys fucking kidding me? We're going to escalate in Afghanistan? Are you guys nuts? Have you all gone mad?' But the majority just reported that some unnamed military official says McCrystal wants more troops, and Obama better give them to him. You know? It was pathetic. It was really, really pathetic. [Robert Greenwald and Reporter Michael Hastings Take on the Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War Machine (Alternet 1/27/12)] 103

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324 There was more blowback to come, however. A few of my colleagues in the media eventually go around to attacking Rolling Stone. It started with a story in The Washington Post. The story, citing anonymous sources, claimed that I had violated ground rules. This wasnt true and the quotes about me that the anonymous sources gave the Post were total fabrications 325 McChrystals defenders would launch another round of pushback in the press, claiming that my quotes came only from junior staff This wasnt true either: McChrystal25 had got the Biden insults rolling, made fun of Holbrookes email, and told me Eikenberry had betrayed him. Jake and Duncan were McChrystals top civilian advisors; Charlie Flynn was his executive officer; and it would be a stretch to call Lt. Commander Dave Silverman a junior staffer. 325 The anonymous officials quoted in the critical stories, I would learn, were under investigation for insubordination. The stories didnt mention that. Ironically, I was also criticized for my use of unnamed sourcesin articles citing unnamed sources. It was the beginning of a whisper campaign from McChrystal and his allies that would continue throughout the next year. 325 On July 13 [2010], I received an email from the Army inspector generals office. The email informed me that the Army had launched an investigation. There was no way I would cooperate with an investigation, particularly if I was being asked to name sources (Even though I wouldnt be breaking any agreement with them by naming them, I felt it was a bad precedent to set). 327 The Department of Defense wasnt satisfied with the Armys investigation, either. The Army investigation had pointed the finger at the individuals they believed made insubordinate comments. Not coincidentally, the Armys investigation [of the Rolling Stone article] concluded that no one in the Army was at fault. The Armys investigation blamed the Navy (Dave Silverman) and the civilian advisors surrounding McChrystal. 327 In September, the Pentagon decided to launch a second investigation. They would spend eight months looking for answers, when all they really had to do was reread the story. To me, both the investigations seemed absurd. My story had never claimed McChrystal and his staff had violated any laws, yet the press coverage of the investigation made it appear

25

Michael Hastings widow Elise Jordan sent an email to the NYT objecting to their obituary. She wrote, I personally transcribed and have all the tape recordings of Michaels interviews during his time with McChrystal and his staff. I can personally verify that some of the most damning comments were made by McChrystal himself, and many others made by his aides in his presence were greeted with his enthusiastic approval.

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as if the men were all being exonerated.26 Exonerated from what? From looking like jerks? For being illegally, rather than casually, insubordinate? 327 The stories missed the bigger picture: the name callingand the later attempts by the Pentagon investigator to rewrite historyrepresented an unapologetic contempt toward the White House. Pentagon officials would privately tell journalists that the intent of the investigation wasnt even to find wrongdoing; it was to damage my credibility. 329 The story had terrified them [the Washington crowd], striking deep-seated fears in the Washington psyche. It demonstrated just how tenuous ones own position could be careers could flame out overnight. And the political and media class saw the story as a threat to their schmoozy relationship27 329 A number of famous journalists would say they heard these kinds of things all the time, but never reported them. It didnt seem to make a difference that I hadnt violated any agreement with McChrystal. The unwritten rule Id broken was a simple one: You really werent supposed to write honestly about people in power. Especially those the media deemed untouchable. Trash Sarah Palin all you want, but tread carefully when writing about the sacred cows like McChrystal and Petraeus. Youre supposed to keep the myths going. Id fucked up I wasnt to be trusted because I tried to tell the truth.

26

Once again, the NYT reporter Thom Shanker carried water for the powers-that-be: An inquiry by the Defense Department inspector general into a magazine profile has cleared the general of all wrongdoing. [Pentagon Inquiry Into Article Clears McChrystal and Aides , NYT Apr. 18, 2011]. A reprise of Shankers previous exoneration(NYT May 26, 2009), just before his June 2009 Senate confirmation hearing, where his analysis found McChrystal was cleared of wrongdoing in the Pat Tillman case. Michael Hastings said, [Thom Shanker] literally just published the Pentagon spokesperson's anonymous quotes when he was reporting on my stories. And he didn't bother to call Rolling Stone for a comment, of course, because, well, he's got the official line from the Pentagon. [Robert Greenwald and Reporter Michael Hastings Take on the Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War Machine, Alternet 1/27/12)]
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Reporter Carl Prine wrote in his column (Greenwald Is Wrong!, Line of Departure - January 7th, 2012): The confluence of celebrity generals and sycophantic DC reporters has served poorly our democracy and contributed to some of the worst journalism on battle in a half century. Too many reporters in and out of DC are stenographers, and they play to their sources instead of working hard on behalf of their readers. This is true not only of many reporters covering defense issues, but also those on every beat at every news outlet in the country. Thats one reason why ESPN did better reporting on the death of Pat Tillman than everyone in DC Mike Fish and the sports guys were outsiders not only to defense reporting but also the failed Beltway nexus of journos and generals, so they had no sacred cows to spare or VIPs to curry. They cared only about the truth. 105

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330 Strangely I ended up on pretty good terms with a number of military officials. It was the other journalists who covered the military and politics that I clashed with most often. A number of reporters had paid side gigs at defense-industry-funded think tanks,28 essentially getting financial support from the very same people they were supposed to be covering. 29
28

I would bet that New York Time Pentagon reporter Thom Shanker was one of the journalists that Michael Hastings clashed with most. As previously mentioned, Thom Shanker has had a very cozy relationship with Gen. McChrystal and his friends at CNAS. Yep. Just found Michaels response to the question: are there individual reporters whom you want to call out publicly for their sort of following the Pentagon line and not doing their job? Yeah. I saw a pretty egregious example with the New York Times Pentagon correspondent [Thom Shanker] who literally just published the Pentagon spokesperson's anonymous quotes when he was reporting on my stories. And he didn't bother to call Rolling Stone for a comment, of course, because, well, he's got the official line from the Pentagon. I would also call out a group of very influential national security reporters who work at most of the major media outlets. And if you look closely at their resumes, they all belong or have been paid by, or have worked for very influential think tanks Center for New American Security [CNAS] is sort of the most egregious example [Robert Greenwald and Reporter Michael Hastings Take on the Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War Machine, Alternet 1/27/12)] As previously mentioned (#18), shortly before McChrystals 2009 Senate hearing, Thom Shanker wrote his analysis piece that supposedly exonerated Gen. McChrystal of all wrong-doing in the Tillman cover-up. However, Shanker ignored clear evidence of McChrystal s central hands-on role. [See Lies Borne Out By Facts, If Not the Truth and pp. 94-101, "The [Untold] Tillman Story"] Afterwards, Shanker enjoyed exceptional access to General McChrystal. For example, he wrote: On the day [June 10, 2009] in the summer of 2009 that a Senate vote confirmed General McChrystal and elevated him to his new command and he deployed to Afghanistan, he took two reporters from the New York Times [Tom Shanker & Eric Schmitt] on a tour of his new rear headquarters in a sealed corridor of the Pentagon basement [p.83, Counterstrike] As previously mentioned (#**) , New York Times Pentagon Reporter Thom Shanker wrote, CNAS in Washington allowed each of us [Shanker & co-author NYT reporter Eric Schmitt] to spend 90 days as a writer in residence [Fall 2009] to work on Counterstrike it is a place where many of the sharpest thinkers on national security hang their hat or pass through for coffee or lunch [p.309, Counterstrike] (Wow, can you hear the sucking sound?) It appears Shankers CNAS sabbatical was yet another perk for exonerating McChrystal and for being a loyal stenographer for the Pentagon and the Obama administration. [see Court Stenographer in Residence in "He Who Shall Not Be Fact Checked"] And guess who hosted the book release party for Counterstrike? CNAS, of course! And Andrew Exum posted an interview with Shanker shortly before the party(Special Abu Muqawama Q&A: Counterstrike!)
29

Reporter Carl Prine wrote in his column (Greenwald Is Wrong!, Line of Departure - January 7th, 2012) that you always know where I stand, especially when it comes to celebrity generals and the stenographic Beltway reporters who churn out their hagiographies. I think that some reporters have 106

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They seemed to take my criticism of the military-industrial complex personally. It might as well be called, I thought, the media-military-industrial complex.30 330 I could understand why the government officials would be pissed. I was telling them their whole strategy was a waste of time. But the reaction from a number of journalists on the national security beat seemed pretty twisted

371 On April 8, the Defense Department investigation into McChrystal and his staff is completed. The investigators didnt talk to McChrystal or Rolling Stone. The investigation reads comically31--no one the investigators spoke to admits to saying what they said, but they also dont admit to the quotes not having been said. It also contradicts the findings of the earlier Army investigation. In some instances, we found no witness who acknowledged making or hearing the comments as reported. In other instances, we
been co-opted by their sources. Too many also have accepted paid sinecures or similar enticements from DC nonprofits and that has colored their work, which explains much of my animus against the bearded mediocrity Tom Ricks and his uniquely unthinking brand of think tank journalism.
30

Michael Hastings said [Robert Greenwald and Reporter Michael Hastings Take on the Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War Machine, Alternet 1/27/12]: the reason I called it the media military industrial complex, is that they call it the Pentagon Press Corps, right? And you sort of think, oh, well it means the people who kind of watch over the Pentagon and perform the media's watchdog function, but no, it's an extension of the Pentagon. I remember watching the hilarious Colbert roast at the White House Correspondents dinner: Let's review the rules, here's how it works. The President makes decisions, he's the decider. The press secretary announces the decisions, and you people of the press type these decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put them through a spell check and go home. (I almost feel sorry for the poor Public relations SOB who made the decision to hire Colbert! I imagine his career nosedived like McChrystals PR guru Duncan Boothby!)
31

In an interview with Scott Horton (The Operators; Six Questions for Michael Hastings, Jan. 20, 2012), Michael Hastings said: The multiple Pentagon investigations into the Rolling Stone story were particularly absurd. Of course, the results of these investigations were invariably reported with pro Pentagon spin. Thom Shanker [no surprise!] the New York Timess Pentagon correspondent, didnt even bother calling us for comment before he ran with the Pentagon spokespersons story clearing McChrystal, whatever that meant. (I refer you to the statement Obama made when he fired McChrystalthats why he got fired, not because he explicitly broke any laws. The Pentagons attempt at rewriting this history has been disturbing to observe.) I suggest reading the report of the investigations in full, if you want some comic relief.

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confirmed that the general substance of the incident at issue occurred, but not in the exact context described in the article, the report states. 372 McChrystal says he doesnt remember hearing the bite me response (though he laughed when he heard it).32 Jake McFerren doesnt admit to saying it. Witnesses deny that McChrystal shared his private interactions with Obama (Though I had witnessed him share the contents of those discussions with his staff, and hed shared them with me as well). Charlie Flynn wouldnt admit to McChrystal having given him the middle finger Dave Silverman wouldnt admit to calling the French fucking gay The report found insufficient evidence that they called themselves Team America. (Though Dave, Casey, Duncan, and a few others on his staff had called themselves that). It [Rolling Stone exoneration] is the last whitewash of McChrystals military career.33 ... 372 Two days after the [Dept. of Defense] report is finished, the White House announces that President Obama appointed McChrystal as an unpaid advisor to military families. They [White House] help to rehabilitate Stanley McChrystals image, appointing him [April 2011] to lead a high-profile initiative [Joining Forces] supporting military families34 no need to have a potential voice criticizing the administration in the upcoming election. 372 Mary Tillman, Pat Tillmans mother, is outraged. Its a slap in the face to all soldiers, she says of the choice. He deliberately helped cover up Pats death. And he has never adequately apologized to us.35
32

Michael Hastings widow Elise Jordan sent an email to the NYT objecting to their obituary. She wrote, I personally transcribed and have all the tape recordings of Michaels interviews during his time with McChrystal and his staff. I can personally verify that some of the most damning comments were made by McChrystal himself, and many others made by his aides in his presence were greeted with his enthusiastic approval.
33

Michael Hastings said, Is whitewash one or two words? In my experience, when the DoD investigates itselfespecially when powerful people are involvedthey find they did nothing wrong. Or, they find some low-level asshole to hang out to dry [Scott Hortons, The Operators; Six Questions for Michael Hastings, Jan. 20, 2012].
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I believe "Joining Forces" is largely a PR campaign to rehabilitate the patriotic image of Michelle (and to kick-start Obamas re-election campaign with a Parade magazine cover story). As a bonus, President Obama mended fences with the military leadership by appointing Gen. McChrystal to head the advisory board just prior to his being cleared of all wrongdoing" in Le'Affair Rolling Stan.
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See Jake Tappers ABC News Exclusive: Pat Tillmans Mom Wants General Stanley McChrystal Removed From White House Post (April 13, 2011) and Narda Zacchinos What Stanley McChrystal Did to Pat Tillmans Family (Truthdig.com, April 13, 2011). 108

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Heres my take on the matter [new material and see pp. 23-25 "Jon Krakauer's Credibility Problem"]: On April 10th, Gen. McChrystals reputation was further restored by President Obamas appointment of McChrystal to head up the new Joining Forces program to support military veterans and their families. In response, Mary Tillman said, Its a slap in the face to appoint this man He deliberately helped cover up Pats death someone who has a heartfelt desire to help families would not have been involved in the cover-up of a soldiers death When asked about Marys remarks, Michelle Obama said were proud to have him [McChrystal] on board and White House Press Secretary Carney said that [President] Obama is very aware of the generals rsum. Later he added, We have enormous respect for the service and sacrifice of Pat Tillman and his family. The circumstances surrounding Pat Tillman's death have been thoroughly investigated, and General McChrystal was found to have acted honorably despite the fact that this tragedy was mishandled. And, Gen. McChrystals reputation was further rehabilitated by his being officially cleared by the Department of Defense of all wrongdoing in LeAffair Rolling Stan (echoed by the NYT reporter Thom Shanker who supposedly cleared McChrystal of all wrong-doing in the Tillman affair in 2009). Now, the newly rehabilitated McChrystal is out on the lecture circuit (e.g. Get Motivated, etc.), pulling down lucrative speaking fees, etc. [The NYT is hardly the grey lady of journalism. More like the whore of war and government. At least RS is still doing real journalism.]
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Gen. McChrystal was appointed by President Obama to lead the advisory panel of the Joining Forces program which will be run out of the Washington think tank, Center for a New American Security (CNAS). CNAS has had close ties with both Gen. Petreaus and Gen. McChrystal and led the push for the Afghan war surge. And, CNASs Andrew Exum (a former Army Ranger officer) whitewashed McChrystals role in the Tillman cover-up with his horribly biased Washington Post book review and his blog posts at Abu Mugawama (discussed in detail in He Who Shall Not Be Fact Checked). Here's an excerpt from Andrew Exums June 2, 2009 post "Confirm Him": The bottom line is, nothing is ever going to heal the wounds inflicted on the Tillman Family And while I have nothing but respect for the Tillman Family, their personal grief should not be a veto on the nomination of the man [Gen. Stanley McChrystal] These are serious questions and are more important than either the death of Pat Tillman or the alleged abuse of detainees. In other words, the Tillman family can go to hell. And CNAS guys like him are going to run this new program to "support" military families! Considering their past betrayal of the Tillman family, Gen. McChrystal and CNAS was a shameful choice by President Obama to run the Joining Forces program.

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371 McChrystal spends his first fall out of the United States military teaching at Yale University. There is a controversy when a screening of a documentary about Pat Tillman36 is scheduled to air; the Yale College Democrats back away from endorsing it. hes reportingly getting $60,000 a speaking engagement. 381 Source Notes: During my time with General McChrystal, I recorded over twenty hours worth of interviews with him and his staff. I also documented the journey contemporaneously with a half-dozen notebooks, a camera phone, and about seventy pages of single-spaced typed notes.

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Amir Bar-Lev directed the The Tillman Story. This documentary premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Jan. 2009. The Tillman Story is an apt title. The film is centered around the Tillman family who display more honor, loyalty, and integrity than their countrys leadership. Still, I prefer the original title: Im Pat Fucking Tillman! (his last words). Ironically, the re-titled film was later given an R rating by the MPAA because Richard Tillman and a couple Rangers dropped the F-bomb a few times. [see my film review in "The Tillman Story"] And, heres Bar-Levs take on our lapdog press: those generals basically say the equivalent of, The dog ate my homework That was how it was reported. The only f-ing idiots who buy that, the only fools who believe that, are the mainstream press. Its just so clear to everyone else, and its the equivalent of saying, Honey, I know that it looks like Im fucking your sister, but actually I dropped my wallet, and then my belt fell down, and she happened to be there. Thats what the military has done in the Pat Tillman case. [see Interviews with The Tillman Story Director Amir Bar-Lev in "The Tillman Story"]

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APPENDIX G: Carl Prines Glenn Greenwald is Wrong!


(Line of Departure, January 7, 2012) Note: Ive archived this entire post here since it is no longer available at military.com. Ive included it because this post illustrates how even the best journalists have bought into the myth that Hastings violated journalistic ethics by using off-the-record comments from McChrystal & Team America during unguarded moments. Total bullshit, but NYTs Thom Shankers false meme has stuck: Most of the comments seem to have been uttered during unguarded moments, in places like bars and restaurants where the general and his aides gathered to unwind. But, IF, anyone bothers to check, Hastings didnt print any damning quotes (in his Rolling Stone profile or book The Operators) from drinking at the bar in Paris. Those quotes came from on-the-record interviews elsewhere. Still, even friends of Hastings, such as Spencer Ackerman, have bought into that myth. In his eulogy, he said: he didn't publish anything that was explicitly off-the-record; but neither did he stop observing the boorish behavior of McChrystal's senior aides while the beers flowed. There's a reasonable professional journalistic debate to be had about what to do with material uttered by sources when they're drunk. Carls a great guy, an ex-Marine who re-enlisted at age 37 in the Army reserve and did a 2005 tour in Iraq (he suffered TBIs from multiple IED blasts in the Anbar province of Iraq; hes mentioned in Owen Wests book The Snake Eaters). Carl is an investigative reporter (specializing in military and veterans issues) for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He wrote the blog Line of Departure, but had to quit last summer after disabling migraines from his TBIs returned in full force. Unfortunately Prine never bothered to read Hastings book before fisking the hell out of it. In 2012, Kelly Vahlos wrote a touching tribute (Carl Prines Line of Departure) to an iconoclastic blogger/reporter whos been sidelined by disabling migraines he got from IEDs in Anbar. She wrote that Carl Prine: is one of the good guys, a veteran who obviously loves the military for what it could be and loathes it for what it has been used for Hes not been right about absolutely everything and sometimes I think he could go easier on other writers [a reference to Michael Hastings], especially when they have their hearts and heads in the right place.
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But hes always consistent when it counts in his loyalty to the rank and file and exposing the corruption of power. And that makes him tops with me because there arent a lot of veteranjournalist-critics with his talent willing to write the things he does [One of Carls last columns, McChrystal Clear was a caustic review of Gen. Stanley McChrystals road show; for an archived copy see the post Never Shall I Fail My Comrades at the Feral Firefighter blog].
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Carl Prines Glenn Greenwald is Wrong! (Line of Departure, January 7, 2012):


When I was asked to take on this gig, Military.com wanted me to do a few things: 1) Be myself, which is to say give people an unvarnished opinion, not reporting, about daily events; 2) Find interesting voices to share some space here; 3) Explain the many phenomena of war as someone who has served in uniform or reported on combat; and, 4) Explain journalism to those in the military who dont often encounter our curious species. Because Im something of a human salamander, a man who has at times been both a Marine and Army National Guard infantryman when he wasnt a reporter, the home office thought that this might make for an interesting voice translating events and ideas for you. The jurys still out on that! But thats not why I took the job. I took it because it gave me a chance to converse with you, a mostly military audience, almost daily, often as something of an outsider to two worlds. Im an investigative reporter who writes often on national security issues, but unlike the vast majority of my peers on the beat Im not in DC. And also unlike most reporters, Ive got a few ribbons, badges and medals that look pretty cool in a shadow box. I learn from you a lot, and its helped me become a better reporter and a better man. And I think you always know where I stand, especially when it comes to celebrity generals and the stenographic Beltway reporters who churn out their hagiographies. Mostly this is because I believe that by focusing on the GOs too many reporters miss the complexity of warmaking and produce the cheapest, laziest journalism possible. In other cases, I think that some reporters have been co-opted by their sources. Too many also have accepted paid sinecures or similar enticements from DC nonprofits and that has colored their work, which explains much of my animus against the bearded mediocrity Tom Ricks and his uniquely unthinking brand of think tank journalism.

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Other reporters were made easy marks for the Pentagon and punditry because of vanity. They flatter themselves by comparing their own hippy notions with a faux huggy-wuggy sales pitch for counterinsurgency trotted out by both the sincerely simple and the swindlers who always surface during times of crisis to turn a buck or make a name. Which brings me to Michael Hastings, a very bad reporter who consistently makes himself the story, steals the very worst practices of the Beltway journos he lampoons and then expects us to admire the bravery of his incompetence when were not cheering the arrogance plopped from the pucker of his big, stupid, whining mouth. Currently, he seems to be on a book tour pimping a tall tale of journalistic martyrdom and the suckers hes hooked include easy touches like his friend, Spencer Ackerman, and respected Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald . I wont elbow Attackerman because the practice of friends interviewing friends never makes for hard-hitting interviews. Its fine for the medium of a blog, but its not serious journalism and I dont think Spencer aimed for his Q&A to approximate it. Hell, when I had Mike Noonan on here it was obvious that I wasnt exactly grilling him. Also, I respect Ackerman as a reporter and Ive watched him in action. But all that doesnt apply to Greenwald, which gives us license to concentrate on his dubious Hastings hagiography. ***** Full disclosure: I concede up front that I havent read Hastings book. Yet. I also must repeat what many of you know Ive defended publicly, to a point, his 2010 Rolling Stone piece on fired U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, [see his comment in Appendix D37] The Runaway

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From Carl Prine Comment on June 26, 2010 - 12:40pm to Andrew Exums Abu Muqawama June 25, 2010 blog post, Beers on the Table: Journalists and the Public Figures They Cover: There's a balance between burning sources and telling the truth. He was granted access by McChrystal's command. Perhaps because Rolling Stone had through "Generation Kill" and other stories endeared itself to the unconventional community of warriors. Sometimes there are beer-on-the-table moments that stay on the record. Sources sometimes drink. You can't avoid that, but you're careful to weigh what they say against the likelihood of intoxication. If the sources were on the record and weren't drunk, then it would have been wrong for Hastings to fail to use their words. More telling for those with military backgrounds perhaps wasn't the salty slurs tossed at those in the chain of command or concern (that happens all the time), but rather that the general never seemed to correct any of staffers in front of a reporter. If McChrsytal had even once ordered his men to STFU about Jones or Biden or anyone else, would he have been in any trouble? .

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General, while also calling on the magazine to retract his bracingly incompetent hit piece, Another Runaway General: Army Deploys Psy-Ops on U.S. Senators. So, with those caveats in mind, my list of what Greenwald screws up and gets about right about the journalism of Hastings 1. Rolling Stones Michael Hastings embodies the pure journalistic ethos. My ass. Ethos implies the moral lifeblood of a man or his profession. From this Greek word comes the Latin, and later English, notion of ethics, and from that our modern conception of a canon of journalistic norms and standards. Because hes young, the body of Hastings work is spare; but one could raise the question, after reading both Runaway General and the Caldwell piece, whether Hastings and his editors took a couple of ethical shortcuts while confecting them. Greenwald seems to confuse Hastings obvious zeal with what the profession, at its best, actually values in the completed articles or broadcasts truthfulness, accuracy, fairness, impartiality and accountability. In Another Runaway General, for example, Hastings failed to back up even the rudiments of his lede: There wasnt a special Psy-Ops team that had been illegally ordered to do anything. U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Michael Holmes was NOT trained in the art of psychological operations and asking officer castaways to gin up briefs on CODEL visitors didnt violate any statute known to man. A reader was left to wonder whether the bad reporting and the editing of Another Runaway General transpired because the gaggle at Rolling Stone never wanted to confect an impartial piece and instead bent the rules of fairness along the way. Whether you like Frontier6 or not, he deserved better than he got. With no ethical pillar left to prop up Another Runaway General, I begged the magazine to make the last decent gesture to our profession and pay respect to accountability: Admit that you were wrong, apologize to Caldwell and his staff , and then work harder to get it right in the future for your readers. Rolling Stone didnt do that and, from what I can grasp from Hastings interview with Spencer and Greenwalds curious form of press criticism, neither has the reporter. Once he does, Ill be the first to say that Hastings is making some effort to comport with my day jobs ethos. Until then, hes an outsider even to that.
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2. Some of the most celebrated establishment military reporters in America attacked Hastings for that article on the ground that it violated a sacred trust between Generals and war reporters If youre going to say that, then the quotes must back up the charge. What the New York Times John Burns was getting at goes more to the craft although it also touches on ethics. Reporters go on and off the record all the time with sources. Although some of my peers might disagree, I think that theres nothing unethical about the practice. Sometimes, we receive leaked documents or tips and we must protect the confidentiality of the person who provided the info. Other times, sources want to tell you something that they dont want to see in print linked to their names. You can either grant them the chance to go off the record or tell them, no, what they say must be on the tape for others to consume. This is true of any source, whether he is a general or shes a school teacher. For example, Ive interviewed U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus for the day job and I rightly consider those moments when he went off the record to be forever gone. I marked in the interview transcript the times when he asked and received permission to go dark and I consider it no ones business what he said or why he mightve wanted to go off the record. When asked for that information, Ive politely turned others down. Only he can grant the release of it and hes never asked me to do so. Like confidentiality, going off the record is part of a sacred bond a reporter establishes with ANY source, whether he or she is a general, lawyer, circus freak or football player. If something is said off the record, or if information is exchanged following the promise of confidentiality, then the journalist must make every effort to protect it, including losing his or her job or going to prison. Ive twice stood in a courtroom while a prosecutor and, later, a defense counsel sought to compel me to reveal unpublished notes and recordings along with the names of confidential sources for documents and information used when writing stories. On both occasions I packed a toothbrush because Id rather go to jail than ever violate the trust between a source and me; and I know that most of my fellow reporters feel the exact same way about it.

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The point Burns was making was that because of the long bouts of travel involved in covering these wars that anything overheard on the helicopter or while sleeping next to a general is considered tacitly off the record. It doesnt mean that reporters shouldnt have followed up on any information they might have overheard. Nor does it mean that they cant form personal opinions about the officials that deserved exposure later before a wider audience. I hope more of them would follow up on those conversations, much as good reporters do any tip or lead, even if the resulting story limits access in the future. As watchdogs of our democracy, they must go where the truth leads them, even if it scratches them off some generals Christmas card list. But these ground rules should be hashed out by reporters and their sources during travel or at other gatherings. Like Hastings, I also believe that reporters shouldnt be friends with sources, even if some generals seem to want to be just that. Beyond the question of whether he factually conveyed the remarks he heard, there remains some concerns that what Hastings absorbed during the McChrystal story was off the record. Until Im convinced otherwise, Ill assume that many of the discussions involving McChrystal and his staff transpired during interviews or information gathering sessions that were on the record and that the reporter believed that he could use what he heard during them, to the point that he granted anonymity to several sources who blabbed. But I also think Burns is right that its unfair to use off the record conversations and that when one reporter does it he or she hurts the ability for others to do their jobs. If Hastings did that, then he wasnt fair either to his sources or other reporters. Its also, as reporters like to say, a slippery slope. Taking off the record conversations and putting them into print was something the disgraced Jayson Blair of the New York Times did during his 2003 coverage of the DC snipers, one of his many sins against journalism. At its worst, the practice can devolve into the journalistic poison of Rupert Murdochs unethical elves in London, reporters who tapped phones and stole peoples precious privacy merely to beat the competition and turn a buck for the corporation. Infamy.

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3. Even worse, The Washington Post, ABC News and others irresponsibly published totally anonymous military sources claiming with no basis that Hastings violated ground-rule agreements for the interviews. Oh, thats rich! One of the things that immediately sticks out in Hastings McChrystal story is the constant use of anonymous or unattributed sourcing. And the mix of them was presented so poorly that a reader couldve assumed, as I suppose I also did initially, that some of the most toxic remarks were uttered by the general himself. In a journalistic career far longer than that of young Hastings, Ive used anonymous sources a whopping three times: A union leader prohibited by a legal agreement from talking to the press who nevertheless discovered an error in a government announcement about an economic development project; several jurors who were barred from discussing their deliberations by the judge hearing a criminal case against famed forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht (the judge was later removed from the retrial and charges were dropped against the doctor); and an undercover investigator for the International Atomic Energy Agency who disputed contentions by the Pentagon that they had found a smoking gun of plutonium at an Iraqi nuclear site in 2003. Only because their voices would uniquely add to the accuracy of my reporting and the information wasnt obtainable in any other way would my employers and I grant them anonymity. Think about that. Three sources during a 16-year career mostly spent at two different newspapers. I suspect Hastings had many more anonymice nibbling apart the cheese of truth in the first page of the McChrystal story alone, including the aide, one of his aides, a top adviser, perhaps a different adviser and sources familiar with the meeting. The reality is that Greenwald and Hastings want to deplore Beltway reporters but the hagiographer and his favorite journo seem to have zero problems when someone who openly hates the war apes their penchant for unattributed information and anonymous sourcing. Nor does Greenwald note that like his mysterious adviser and aide, Hastings seems pretty adept at pulling a Houdini on accountability himself, especially when a piece like the Caldwell travesty falls apart. In other words, for all his bleating that hes just not a stenographer and that his hard-earned experience trumps the Beltways methods of gathering the news, hes really the same kind of crappy reporter. Sometimes just more so.

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4. (H)is discussions of national security journalists and how the Pentagon uses them are at least equally valuable. Hastings and Greenwald are right about that. The confluence of celebrity generals and sycophantic DC reporters has served poorly our democracy and contributed to some of the worst journalism on battle in a half century. Too many reporters in and out of DC are stenographers, and they play to their sources instead of working hard on behalf of their readers. This is true not only of many reporters covering defense issues, but also those on every beat at every news outlet in the country. Thats one reason why ESPN did better reporting on the death of Pat Tillman than everyone in DC Mike Fish and the sports guys were outsiders not only to defense reporting but also the failed Beltway nexus of journos and generals, so they had no sacred cows to spare or VIPs to curry. They cared only about the truth. Many DC reporters have become obsessed with celebrity figures, just as they and I think Hastings want to be celebrities themselves. But that doesnt mean that great reporting about national security issues isnt being done, both in Washington and on the battlefields of our globe. On this very blog and elsewhere Ive championed the work of reporters as diverse as Nir Rosen, Kelley Vlahos (I also like her opinion pieces, which fall under a different standard and shouldnt be compared to daily reporting), Moni Basu, Kelly Kennedy, Pakistans Ali Chisti, Andrew Conte, Tara McKelvey, the great Sig Christenson a man Ive come to consider the conscience of our profession and hardly a cheerleader for generals or war and many, many others. Some I know personally; others are bylines admired from a distance. Sometimes Ive been critical of their pieces, but overall theyve produced a body of work that stands on its own and doesnt draw questions for either its competence or ethical shortcuts. And I dont recall these men or women being accused of journalistic stenography. decide to indict Kennedy of that, let me know so I can get a ringside seat. Id watch out for the haymaker left, buddy. Shell drop you. So forgive me if I dont extend to Hastings the title of peer to real reporters like they are and instead lump him in with many of the has beens, wannabes and never weres who dominate the Beltway. If they want to do otherwise, thats their call. Theyve earned that right. And if you

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5. Ordinarily, I would urge as many people as possible to buy the book of someone like Michael Hastings solely in order to support the kind of journalism he does: the more successful his book is, the more it bolsters this journalistic approach and the more of a repudiation it is to the power-serving reporters who attacked him. I would never tell anyone to forgo buying a book. The marketplace of ideas often features merchandise with price tags, and I pull out cash all the time to purchase nonfiction that challenges my preconceived notions about this confusing planet. Thats why Ill pay good money for Hastings tome and I look forward to reading it. But if I thought to follow Greenwalds model, Id have to concede that the journalism perpetrated by Hastings in Rolling Stone shouldnt be financially rewarded. I also would hate to see young reporters emulating his incompetence, mirroring his undeserved arrogance or shrugging off the ethics that guide many thousands of decent, hardworking scribes who hardly would be described as power-serving. I still hold out hope for him, but like the celebrity generals he castigates the time has come for Michael Hastings to chisel himself free of the myth thats scabbed over him. He owes that to readers, people who sorely earned better journalism than they got from DC over the past decade. But mostly Hastings owes it to himself because he probably also deserves a better future than what his notoriety has fated for him.

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