Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA), the highest-ranking military officer to serve in Congress, said this morning the now-infamous Rolling Stone article about General Stanley McChrystal violates military code, but he refused this afternoon to get on board with a call from Rep. David Obey (D-WI) that McChrystal resign.
“We are taught in the military that if you don’t agree with what your commander, or you have certain comments about your commander with regard to what you think, you say that behind closed doors. Once you open up that door and go outside, it is a political official who is over you. It is civilian control and so he made a mistake,” Sestak told a Philadelphia Fox affiliate this morning. When asked by host of the show, Sestak said that McChrystal’s participation in the article violated military code. But he also praised McChrystal, calling him an “excellent commander,” and said that from what he knows of the scandal it doesn’t seem to rise to the level of dismissing the general.
“It’s not yet, I think, on the extreme to where you take it to the next step,” Sestak said. “Does he need to be corrected? Absolutely.”
Sestak said he had not read the article yet, and warned against a “rush to judgment” of the General before “all the facts” are out.
After Obey called for McChrystal to resign this afternoon, Sestak’s Senate campaign offered this statement to TPMDC:
“General McChrystal has apologized for his mistake,” Sestak said. “President Obama made the tough decision to increase our troop presence in Afghanistan. Now, I believe he is doing the right thing by bringing in the General, discussing the matter, with the appropriate corrective action that the Commander in Chief feels best balances the needs of the mission and the proper support of a military officer.”
In the local Fox interview, Sestak said that McChrystal’s offense needs to be put in perspective.
“Again, I don’t know the extent of it,” Sestak said this morning. “But this is not the same as General MacAruthur during the Korean War when President Truman truly had a commander out there who took him on.”
“These are comments that for right now border on ‘wait a moment — that’s not the code by which we are supposed to live,” Sestak said.
The retired three-star admiral — whose own military career was marked by claims that he was sometimes (at least) impolitic when expressing his personal views — expressed some compassion for McChrystal even as he called him out for violating military rules.
“Been there, done it,” Sestak replied when asked about McChrystal’s suggestion that he feels like a “lone wolf” on issues of running the war in Afghanistan. “This is where you have a value in a commander: Does he speak bluntly what he believes — but in the private confines of the room?”
Check out the video of the whole interview here: