News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion

June 23, 2010

STEPHANIE SALTER: Accident report: On-the-record remarks can wreck a career

TERRE HAUTE — In David Simon’s incomparable television series, “The Wire,” a couple of episodes dealt with a radical self-rescue practice debated by two aging and disheartened cops on the Baltimore police force.

Not close enough to retirement to wait out unbearable, dead-end assignments, one cop, recently injured, advises the other, a heavy drinker, to screw up his courage and throw himself down a flight of stairs. That way he can “accidentally” get hurt just badly enough to leave early with a disability increase in his pension.

Yet-to-be revealed information may prove otherwise, but it’s hard not to wonder if Gen. Stanley McChrystal just performed the U.S. Army version of the cop throw. Profuse apologies notwithstanding, McChrystal’s cooperation in the Rolling Stone profile of him has many signs of a guy at the end of his rope with no perceived choices but an “accident.”

Live microphones that are assumed to be off are one thing. So are secretly leaked e-mails or inner-office memos. But, according to Rolling Stone editor Eric Bates, the now ex-commander in Afghanistan knew what was coming in Michael Hastings’ profile, “The Runaway General.”

From the Joe “Bite Me” zinger by an aide about Vice President Biden to McChrystal’s disdain of e-mails from security envoy Richard Holbrooke, Bates said, the general and his staff knew about the story’s content from fact-checking calls made to them before publication.

McChrystal’s immediate public apology — to the president and half of Washington —  affirmed that knowledge. No “I misspoke” or “my remarks were taken out of context” for McChrystal. He owned up to the career-ending revelations like the stand-up soldier he’s always been.

“It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and it should never have happened,” he stated. “Throughout my career I have lived by the principles of personal honor and professional integrity. What is reflected in this article falls far short of that standard.”

Wednesday, President Obama agreed with that assessment and accepted McChrystal’s resignation.

Granted, the worst of the comments in Hastings’ story are attributed to the general’s staff members, many unnamed. Scenes of marathon boozing and an impromptu Irish-Afghan dance by McChrystal’s aides in a Paris bar only add to the aura of disconnect with Washington.

But McChrystal, himself, obviously said enough to Hastings about his commander in chief and the administration’s minions in Afghanistan to force Obama’s hand.

Hastings has covered the Iraq War for Newsweek and written for the Washington Post among other news organizations. In a telephone interview Tuesday from Kandahar (where he is embedded with U.S. troops), he told National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” that an assignment he thought would last two days in Paris turned into a month with McChrystal in several venues — thanks, mostly, to the volcano in Iceland.

Hastings told NPR he was surprised at the “candid comments” made in front of him by the general and his aides, especially given that “I had a tape recorder in one hand and a notebook in the other.” He said he did not use information that was specified as “off the record.”

The Rolling Stone piece was not McChrystal’s first time in hot water with the Obama administration. Last year, in a speech in London, he denounced critics of his Afghanistan war strategy — more troops and major focus on counterinsurgency — as people who have “no clue of the complexity of the situation.”

The most visible person among such critics was thought to be Biden.

As many news analyses have emphasized in the wake of McChrystal’s spectacular fall, the war in Afghanistan does not appear to be going so well. June has been the bloodiest month for NATO troops since the war was launched shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. McChrystal’s admirable (and wise) insistence on protecting Afghan civilians in combat zones reportedly is seen by some of his over-taxed troops as a hindrance to their mission and their own safety.

In the profile, Hastings described the general as an intense, funny, brilliant military man. He sleeps only four hours a day, eats only one meal and runs seven miles. Hastings also told NPR that McChrystal wanted “a one-on-one, eyeball-to-eyeball relationship” with President Obama and never got it.

Jeopardizing his future prospects even further, McChrystal let it be known — and Hastings wrote — that he felt betrayed, not supported, by Karl Eikenberry, the current U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan.

Maybe this brilliant tactician, who has never been able to get the funding or the number of troops he’s wanted — this general who knows the incongruities of Afghan society and is committed to winning hearts and minds there as well as battles — unthinkingly screwed up and let a reporter with a tape recorder chronicle his and his staff’s every word.

Maybe McChrystal heard the summarized content of Hastings’ story during the fact-checking phase and wasn’t sufficiently alarmed at how bad it would all sound in print.

Or maybe Gen. McChrystal surveyed the past, present and future, gauged little or no chance for positive change, and — consciously or unconsciously — determined there was really only one way out. An accident.

Yes, it hurts like hell for awhile, but if you do it right and manage not to kill or paralyze yourself, even a lifelong limp might be worth it for the escape.

Stephanie Salter can be reached at (812) 231-4229 or stephanie.salter@tribstar.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • RONN MOTT: Troubled history in that place called Iraq

    People are dying, again, in Iraq. And, again, people other than Iraqis will ultimately make the decision about what happens to this ancient land.

    July 11, 2014

  • Editorial: The Bennett ‘settlement’

    It takes a special kind of arrogance to flout ethics laws in the manner which former state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett has violated them. Even when he finally admitted his transgressions, he claimed he could have avoided the matter altogether had he just changed the department’s ethics policy before engaging in the troublesome conduct.
    In essence, this was the old “mistakes were made” acknowledgment of wrongdoing. And the real mistake to which Bennett admits was apparently not changing the rules before he violated them. This is a truly Nixonian moment.

    July 10, 2014

  • Readers’ Forum: July 11, 2014

    July 10, 2014

  • Ronn Mott.jpg RONN MOTT: That Old Man River

    I was surprised to learn the people in Cairo are now taking water taxis to avoid the traffic, the confusion and the dangers that are appearing on Cairo, Egypt’s, streets. I mean, I was surprised the people in Cairo, these native Egyptians, were surprised they could take a water taxi and get to where they wanted to go using the Nile River as a highway. So, for the Egyptians living in Cairo, everything old is brand new again.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • EDITORIAL: A green idea worth pursuing

    It sounds like a blue-ribbon idea.

    July 9, 2014

  • READERS' FORUM: July 10, 2014

    • Herb Faire a great success

    • Appreciation for a ‘lovely angel’

    • Thanks for stirring fireworks show

    July 9, 2014

  • tstribunestar EDITORIAL: Be safe, be responsible

    The Independence Day weekend brought a brief respite in construction work on area roadways. In particular, it provided needed relief to the congested segment of Interstate 70 in Clay County that is undergoing resurfacing this summer.

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Readers’ Forum: July 9, 2014

    • Don’t eliminate our six-day mail

    • Zamperini death stirs memories

    July 8, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Black Dog

    We had some excitement around our house the other day and it was not the good kind.
    There was a small dog, black in color with a spiked collar on his neck, and he was the spitting image of a small Doberman. I don’t know if they have miniature Dobermans but this dog could have been a mixed breed that came out looking like a Doberman although smaller.

    July 8, 2014

  • Readers’ Forum: July 8, 2014

    • T-S ignores common decency

    • Lighten up on Donald Sterling

    • Time to reject Dems in Congress

    Fueling the EPA

    July 7, 2014

  • MS. TAKES: Great music is made during all generations

    Number Two son tells us that his 20-year-old son has been listening to “Big Band” music with apparent enjoyment. As if that wasn’t enough of a surprise, I was talking with a young girl, barely out of her teens and she told us that she really wasn’t into rap. She said, “It isn’t really music, it’s just talk.”

    July 7, 2014

  • Readers’ Forum: July 7, 2014

    • The moral issue is major issue

    July 6, 2014

  • tstribunestar Editorial: City financial health demands an open, honest discussion

    Obscured by the recent rift over use of departmental funds in the city of Terre Haute’s budget are serious issues related to our city government’s overall financial health. The answers may be mired in the complexity of municipal finance, but coming to grips with the situation is important to the city’s future.

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Readers’ Forum: July 6, 2014

    • Coats ignoring climate science

    • Do those mustache posters exist?

    • Utility rate freeze took determination

    • What perversion is next in line?

    • Opinions vary, but voters will decide

    • This preaching must stop — now

    • Golf fundraiser a huge success

    July 6, 2014

  • Flashpoint: State’s lawyer has duty to represent state in marriage lawsuit appeal

    Recent federal court actions that first struck down Indiana’s statute limiting marriage to the traditional definition, and then stayed that order pending appeal, have left many in our state in legal limbo. As the attorney who represents state government and defends its laws, I know this difficult case stirs many people’s deeply held beliefs that touch their lives in very personal ways. Not since my office had to represent the state in lawsuits arising from the State Fair disaster has a dispute been so seemingly impossible to address in a way that the public would accept as being fair to all concerned.

    July 6, 2014

  • Flashpoint: The Supreme Court decision and ‘closely held’ corporations

    The much awaited Supreme Court decision in Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby came down this week. The court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the 1993 Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA) does cover “closely held” corporations, even if those corporations are for profit.

    July 6, 2014

  • RONN MOTT: Learning more about Jefferson

    During this Fourth of July weekend, I’ll be reading John Meacham’s biography of Thomas Jefferson.

    July 4, 2014

  • EDITORIAL: Celebrate your independence

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
    As eloquent and declaratory as that statement is, implementing its principles has been a decades-long pursuit for these United States of America. Our nation, it seems, is the quintessential work in progress, even though what this country has created in terms of a stable, collective society is, let’s face it, pretty darn good.

    July 3, 2014

  • Readers’ Forum: July 4, 2014

    July 3, 2014

  • Ronn Mott.jpg RONN MOTT: The Men Who Made the Country

    The Fourth of July is the day we celebrate our independence from Great Britain. It reminds me of something David Ben-Gurion would say, at a much later date, about British rule: “If you have to have a master, the British are about as good at it as anybody.” Of course, we really don’t need a master.

    July 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 033114 GREG ZOELLER MUG.jpg GREG ZOELLER: State’s lawyer has duty to represent state in marriage lawsuit appeal

    Recent federal court actions that first struck down Indiana’s statute limiting marriage to the traditional definition, and then stayed that order pending appeal, have left many in our state in legal limbo.

    July 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Readers’ Forum: July 3, 2014

    • Over the top on immigration

    July 2, 2014

  • FLASHPOINT: HIP 2.0 gives consumers better choices

    On Wednesday, the State of Indiana submitted its proposal for the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    July 2, 2014

  • Gov. Mike Pence (R, Ind.) MIKE PENCE: HIP 2.0 gives consumers better choices

    Today, the state of Indiana submitted its proposal for the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
    If approved, the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 would replace traditional Medicaid for low-income, able-bodied Hoosier adults. Unlike traditional Medicaid, which is government-driven, HIP 2.0 is consumer-driven.

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Editorial: Texting law serves safety

    July 1 each year marks the day in Indiana when new laws take effect. But rather than focus on new laws today, let’s observe the anniversary of a law that went on the books three years ago this month — the law that barred texting while driving.

    July 1, 2014

  • Readers’ Forum: July 2, 2014

    July 1, 2014

  • Ronn Mott.jpg RONN MOTT: Cats

    Looking at the situation as a whole, the adopted cats, plus one, seem to be doing OK. The boys, Magic and Mellow, like to roam occasionally, which causes some consternation when they are gone for a long time.

    July 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • LIZ CIANCONE: Oldtime fans will never give up on the Cubbies

    My Best Friend claims to be the world’s oldest living Cubs fan. I am willing to take him at his word, but surely there is some long-lived fan out there in the right field bleachers who would dispute his claim.

    June 30, 2014

  • Readers’ Forum: July 1, 2014

    • Defying the laws of God
    • Correcting the written record
    • Hands of $$ from Redevelopment
    • Celebrity visit for celebration

    June 30, 2014

  • Flashpoint: New Healthy Indiana Plan our best option

    Some state-run health care exchanges — the brainchild of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — have gotten off to a rocky start, to the point that they are turning to the federal government to pick up the pieces. Indiana’s decision to try to expand the already-existing Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) in lieu of an exchange seems a more prudent choice every day.

    June 30, 2014

Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Joy Fills Streets of Cleveland As LeBron Returns Raw: Rebel Leader Weds in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Israel, Gaza Exchange Rocket Fire Police: Prostitute Linked to 2nd Death Ana Ortiz on 'Devious Maids' Finale Texas Shooting Suspect Collapses in Court Arizona Mom of Missing Baby Released From Prison Diaz and Segel Strip Off for 'Sex Tape' WH: LeBron's Move a 'Powerful Statement' Proposed Bill to Regulate NY Costumed Characters Death Toll Tops 100 As Israel Offense Continues Raw: Protesters, Israeli Security Forces Clash Robot Writes Jewish Torah Scroll Children Face Deportation Without Attorneys Man Flees Police in World Cup Scalping Scheme Raw: Australia Hosts Annual Beer Can Regatta Argentina to Face Germany in World Cup Final More Immigrants Detained Along Rio Grande Chimp-attack Victim Lobbies Congress Wendy Williams Sees Turning 50 As Fabulous
NDN Video
Cleveland welcomes home LeBron Houston Killer Collapses in Court When Read Capital Murder Charges for Allegedly Killing Family of Six Worst Valet Ever Wrecks $500K Lamborghini Glee Star Becca Tobin's Boyfriend Matt Bendik Found Dead in Hotel Aerial fish restocking in Utah ScarJo Channels Marilyn Monroe Obama Responds to Hecklers on Immigration Tiny Hamsters Who Ate Burritos are Back for a Tiny Hedgehog's Party Watch Kelly Ripa Get Soaked! 'Referee' Hands Out Yellow Cards for Social Faux Pas in NYC 2014 Emmy Nominees: 8 Snub Shockers Emma Watson Is Va-Va-Voom in Valentino 7 Infamous Sports Blowouts Argentina tops Holland in World Cup semifinals News flush: Japanese toilet exhibition making a splash Emmy Nominations: What to Watch For 'Game of Thrones' Leads 66th Emmy Awards Nominations Photographic 'Proof' That LeBron Is Leaving Miami - @TheBuzzeronFOX Elephant Pool Party at The Oregon Zoo Must-See! Berry and Fallon Form Human Hamster Wheel
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity