Rolling Stone’s Michael Hastings has penned another potential career-ender for a U.S. Army general. In this case, however, the most riveting aspect of Hasting’s expose on Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, a three-star general in charge of training Afghan troops, isn’t Caldwell’s possible crimes, it is the alleged cover-up.
Hastings previously torpedoed the meteoric career of now-retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, after members of McChrystal’s inner circle mouthed off to Hastings about senior members of the Obama administration, including the President.
This time, Hastings takes aim at Caldwell, the former top U.S. spokesman in Iraq, who is now in charge of training Afghan security forces. The central accusation against Caldwell isn’t actually all that jaw dropping. Caldwell ordered a four-man team of Army psychological operations soldiers to help him prep for the visits of influential U.S. senators, including John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Jack Reed and others. Caldwell wanted the psychological operations team to assemble basic background profiles, including voting records and interests, that would help them influence the senators to provide the Army with more troops in Afghanistan. (Carl Levin, one of those senators, released a statement Thursday saying he “never needed any convincing” on this point.