Rolling Stone‘s Michael Hastings is a consistent home run hitter. First, he profiled the culture of disdain that General Stanley McChrystal and his command staff had for their civilian leadership partners — ending McChrystal’s storied military career.
Now, Hastings has something right out of bad fiction. Lt. General William Caldwell, who is reportedly one of President Obama’s favorites, actually hatched and deployed a plan to use psy-ops against US Senators and Congressmen. Unbelievable, and illegal.
Two of those US Senators targeted were Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin and US Senator Al Franken. Levin has already issued a statement that his views on building Afghan security forces have been consistent and stands by his views — i.e. saying he didn’t feel that the psy-ops worked on him.
But I’m not so sure.
In January 2010, I participated in a substantive and interesting conference call with Senator Levin when he was returning with Al Franken via Dubai from a CODEL trip visiting Afghanistan. I wrote about it then and was fairly surprised given the skepticism both had previously expressed for Afghanistan that they believed so readily what the military was telling them. It really seemed strange to me.
Here is what I wrote after the conference call. I also did a few media shows about this leap that Levin and Franken had made on Afghanistan, particularly on Pete Dominick’s SiriusXM POTUS Channel show.
Caldwell should be fired. What he did, if Hastings has his details is right, is really outrageous and a further testament to the wobbliness of civilian control over the military in today’s world.
But bigger question is whether any psy-ops operations were directed at the President of the United States and/or his direct team.
Someone needs to ask that in the White House press briefing.
– Steve Clemons