Updated: June 22, 6:24 p.m.
Senate Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Byron Dorgan (N.D.) and House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) called Tuesday for Gen. Stanley McChrystal to resign over disparaging comments the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan made about President Barack Obama and the White House’s interactions with McChrystal and his staff.
The responses from the two power lawmakers are the most severe Congressional fallout yet from comments that McChrystal made in a Rolling Stone article sharply criticizing Obama and most of the key players on his defense team. McChrystal has been summoned to the White House on Wednesday for a meeting with Obama to explain his remarks.
“If he actually said half of what is being reported, he shouldn’t be in the position he is in,” Obey said in a statement. Dorgan echoed that sentiment when asked by CNN whether the general should resign, saying that if McChrystal “said what it was reported that he said, the answer is yes.”
“We can’t have a general calling the national security adviser a clown, or whatever had been attributed to him with respect to Vice President [Joseph] Biden, the national security adviser and others,” Dorgan told CNN. “It’s just unbelievably inappropriate and just can’t be allowed to stand.”
The characteristically outspoken Obey cast McChrystal as the latest in “a long list of reckless, renegade generals who haven’t seemed to understand that their role is to implement policy, not design it.”
He added that McChrystal has demonstrated a lack of respect for his chain of command in the past.
“Gen. McChrystal’s comments are not the first time we’ve seen a general contemptuous of his civilian superiors,” Obey said, adding, “It isn’t even the first time we’ve seen this general be contemptuous. … Anybody, including a U.S. Army general, is entitled to making a damn fool of themselves once. But Gen. McChrystal hasn’t appeared to learn from his mistakes.”
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said he didn’t “want to prejudge” the conversation that the president and McChrystal would have, but he did not rule out the possibility that Obama would remove him from the post. Gibbs stressed that it was important for U.S. and Afghan officials to trust military leaders in the war-torn country and acknowledged that there were “open questions” about McChrystal’s capability to serve in light of the comments. Gibbs also described Obama as angry about the article.
Obey, who is preparing to bring an emergency spending bill to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the House floor, said he agreed with McChrystal’s assessment in a Tuesday morning apology that his comments were a mistake and in poor judgment.
“I couldn’t have said it better myself,” Obey said.