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Rolling Stone Slams Pentagon for Relying upon Anonymous Sources

A Pentagon investigation has cast doubt on the Rolling Stones article that led to Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s termination last summer. Investigators were apparently unable to find witnesses who would verify that some of the controversial statements or conversations referenced in the article ever took place. As CBS News reports,

Specifically, the investigation could not confirm quotes attributed to “sources familiar” with a meeting between the president and the Pentagon brass at which McChrystal thought the then newly elected president looked “uncomfortable and intimidated,” and it could not confirm quotes attributed to “an adviser” stating that McChrystal was “pretty disappointed” with the president after a one-on-one meeting with the commander-in-chief.

Rolling Stone says that it stands by the story. In a prepared statement, the magazine also criticized the Pentagon’s probe, saying that it “offers no credible source—or indeed, any named source—contradicting the facts as reported in our story.” That’s certainly true, and it obviously leaves the investigation open to doubt. But it’s more than a little ironic that Rolling Stone is complaining about anonymous sources, since that’s what the bulk of its McChrystal exposé was based on. Not only was the anonymous sourcing a big part of what made the article so controversial in the first place, but also what increased the government’s difficulty in investigating the veracity of the claims.

The probe obviously doesn’t shut the door on this case. It’s possible that the article was accurate, and there are plenty of reasons why witnesses may have been hesitant to talk to investigators about the issue. But the investigation does go a long way toward clearing McChrystal’s name, at least officially.



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