Glenn Greenwald has a good round-up of the media pushback against the latest Rolling Stone article by Michael Hastings, which alleges that Lt. Gen. William Caldwell tried to use psy-ops against VIPs such as Senators and Congressmen. Most of what he finds is anonymously-sourced smears by the WSJ and MSNBC as the millitary fights back.
The New York Times, to its credit, limits its account to a named source, using an email sent to friends by a NATO spokesman. Reading that article, which is full of denials but devoid of smears, it’s clear that the intelligence team was used to gather information on visiting dignitaries, and that the dispute is over the degree to which they were used.
So, the most damning charge against Lt. Gen. Caldwell — that he was more interested in PR for the American public than his mission training Afghan troops — hasn’t been refuted, and it’s hard to see how he survives this:
At a minimum, the use of the IO team against U.S. senators was a misuse of vital resources designed to combat the enemy; it cost American taxpayers roughly $6 million to deploy Holmes and his team in Afghanistan for a year. But Caldwell seemed more eager to advance his own career than to defeat the Taliban. “We called it Operation Fourth Star,” says Holmes. “Caldwell seemed far more focused on the Americans and the funding stream than he was on the Afghans. We were there to teach and train the Afghans. But for the first four months it was all about the U.S. Later he even started talking about targeting the NATO populations.” At one point, according to Holmes, Caldwell wanted to break up the IO team and give each general on his staff their own personal spokesperson with psy-ops training.