Kerry chides McChrystal for 'poor judgment,' but won't call for firing

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said Gen. Stanley McChrystal used "poor judgment" in criticizing President Barack Obama in a new magazine article but declined to say whether the general should keep his job.

Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Tuesday that it’s up to Obama — who has summoned the top U.S. general in Afghanistan to the White House on Wednesday to explain his comments in Rolling Stone magazine — to weigh the general’s future.

“I have confidence in his abilities as a general,” Kerry said in an interview on MSNBC when asked about McChrystal’s fate. “I think that this is something that has to be decided by the president and his top security team, and they deserve to have a conversation before a lot of us are chiming in from the sidelines.”

But Kerry, a decorated Vietnam veteran, also attacked McChrystal’s remarks. “It is certainly a mistake. There is no question that it is poor judgment on the part of both the general and some of his staff,” Kerry said.

“The real question is, Will it affect his ability to continue to have a relationship with the president and his top staff? That is between them,” Kerry added. “I think people need to give this meeting tomorrow the room to take place and not have the normal Washington, you know, 50,000 different opinions sounding off in between now and then.”

McChrystal was summoned to Washington after excerpts from the article were published. The article depicts McChrystal and his staff as extremely critical of Obama and members of his administration.

Rolling Stone quotes a McChrystal aide saying the general was "disappointed" in his first meeting with an "unprepared" President Obama. McChrystal or staff members also criticize Vice President Joe Biden, National Security Adviser James Jones, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry and Richard Holbrooke, Obama's special envoy to the region.

McChrystal was directly quoted as saying he felt "betrayed" by Eikenberry.

Kerry also attacked comments in the Rolling Stone piece by an anonymous McChrystal aide that bashed Kerry and other lawmakers for their visits to Afghanistan.

The aide said politicians like Kerry and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) “turn up, have a meeting with [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai, criticize him at the airport press conference, then get back for the Sunday talk shows. Frankly, it’s not very helpful.”

Kerry said the comment “displays a fundamental ignorance about the process and how it works” and defended his work in the country and talks with Karzai.

Kerry also said what’s most important is staying focused on success in the Afghanistan. “I don’t want this particular episode, one way or the other, to get in the way of our troops being successful and of our policy being able to be as effective as possible,” he said.