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Fox legal analyst predicts McChrystal will be fired

By David Edwards and Ron Brynaert
Tuesday, June 22, 2010 13:18 EDT
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Update: White House spokesman Robert Gibbs won’t say if McChrystal’s job is safe. He added that he’ll have more to say after President Obama meets with the general. More at this link.

Fox News Senior Judicial analyst told hosts Gretchen Carlson and Brian Kilmeade that he expects Gen. Stanley McChrystal to be fired by the president.

“I think he probably will be because of the insubordination contained in this article,” Napolitano said, referring to a Rolling Stone article due on newsstands Friday.

Napolitano acknowledged that Obama might say he backs the general’s 1st Amendment rights and “now go back and win the war.”

“Or he may say ‘if you don’t believe in me’ then ‘I don’t believe in you,’” the Fox legal analyst added. “‘You’re going to Tampa and having a desk job.”

CARLSON: I’m not so sure the president — obviously, he knew there was a rift between himself and McChrystal when he was making that decision about the troop surge. So, I’m not sure that the president wasn’t aware of the feelings. But here is what you say and you’re the judge. The uniform code of military justice prohibits a commanding general from being critical of civilian command in public.

NAPOLITANO: Correct. If he has a difficulty with civilian command, that is if the president orders him to do something that he thinks is unsafe, unwise, not indicated by good military strategy, his duty is to make that known to the president in private. Not to demean the president’s leadership in public. For that he could be fired. He also could be fired for attempting to go change public policy because that could arguably be involved in politics while he’s in uniform and duty. Now, firing a general doesn’t mean taking a star off his shoulder or affecting his income. It just means taking away his command. So instead of commanding 100,000 troops, he may have two secretaries and a personal assistant at a desk job in Tampa.

Among other things, McChrystal joked to Rolling Stone sarcastically about preparing to answer a question referring to Vice President Joe Biden, known as a skeptic of the commander’s war strategy.

“‘Are you asking about Vice President Biden?’ McChrystal says with a laugh. ‘Who’s that?’” the article quotes him as saying.

“‘Biden?’ suggested a top adviser. ‘Did you say: Bite Me?’”

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough also said McChrystal should be fired by the end of the day.

Other presidents have to make tough choices in similar situations. President Harry S. Truman was forced to fire General Douglas MacArthur because he fought over the policy of containment in North Korea. “The cause of world peace is more important than any individual,” Truman announced to the nation on April 11, 1951. On the other hand, President Dwight D. Eisenhower didn’t fire General George S. Patton, even though he had disobeyed orders and not reported problems, and controversially slapped a crying soldier in a hospital.

Last December, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OHIO) said “that U.S. generals who spoke publicly about the nation’s Afghan strategy during the president’s deliberations should lose their jobs,” The Hill reported.

U.S. and NATO commanding Gen. Stanley McChrystal was known for speaking publicly about the need for more troops in Afghanistan. The top general in the country made several media appearances after it was reported that he requested that President Barack Obama send 40,000 additional troops or face “mission failure.”

McChrystal’s words came as Obama and the nation’s top military and diplomatic officials weighed a new strategy behind closed doors for months. Obama announced on Dec. 1 that 30,000 additional troops will be sent to Afghanistan and U.S. forces will begin to withdraw in July 2011.

Kucinich blamed Obama for the the generals’ willingness to speak out, saying that he gave them too much leeway.

“President Obama, who is a good man, has given his generals a little too much leeway,” he said. “Congress has the obligation under our constitution to make the decision whether to go to war.”

This video is from Fox News’ Fox & Friends, broadcast June 22, 2010.


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