Nov 13, 2012 No Comments ›› Chuck Biscuits
Excerpted from CBS News: The sex scandal that led to CIA Director David Petraeus’ downfall widened Tuesday with word the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan is under investigation for thousands of alleged “inappropriate communications” with another woman involved in the case. One defense official told CBS News the communications were “flirtatious.”
Even as the FBI prepared a timeline for Congress about the investigation that brought to light Petraeus’ extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta revealed that the Pentagon had begun an internal investigation into emails between Gen. John Allen and a Florida woman involved in the case.
One senior official told CBS News correspondent David Martin that the vast majority of the emails between Allen and Tampa socialite Jill Kelley “are completely innocuous,” and he thinks that many of them are duplicates. He said that in some of the emails Kelley would say, “Saw you on television and you were terrific,” and Allen would write back with “thanks sweetheart.” The official also added that the two never discussed sex and that Allen had never been alone with Kelley.
Another defense official, who spoke with the traveling Panetta party, characterized the emails as “flirtatious,” reported Martin. The official said that “General Allen has denied he had an extramarital affair,” but to whom he made that denial is unclear. The reason there is an Inspector General investigation, he said, is that flirtatious language, depending on its content, could be seen as bringing discredit on the military, which is a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
It wasn’t immediately clear who wrote the flirtatious notes — Allen, Kelley or both.
Martin asked a different official why there would be an investigation if the e-mails were as innocuous as the first official called them — for example, just terms of endearment. He said “if that were the only thing that was in there then we wouldn’t be asking the Inspector General to look into it.” He said some of the e-mails appear to be “more than just friendly exchanges . . .more than just terms of endearment. . . We would have the Inspector General looking at this if we didn’t believe he may have crossed the line.”
Allen succeeded Petraeus as the top American commander in Afghanistan in July 2011, and his nomination to become the next commander of U.S. European Command and the commander of NATO forces in Europe has now been put on hold, as the scandal seemed certain to ensnare another acclaimed military figure. Martin reported that Allen remains in command and is scheduled to return to Afghanistan on Saturday.
In a White House statement early Tuesday, National Security spokesman Tommy Vietor said President Barack Obama has held Allen’s nomination at Panetta’s request. Obama, the statement said, “remains focused on fully supporting our extraordinary troops and coalition partners in Afghanistan, who Gen. Allen continues to lead as he has so ably done for over a year.”
It was Broadwell’s allegedly threatening emails to Kelley, a Petraeus family friend, that led to the FBI’s discovery of communications between Broadwell and Petraeus indicating they were having an affair. Petraeus acknowledged the affair when he resigned from the CIA post on Friday.
In the latest revelations, a Pentagon official traveling with Panetta to Australia said “inappropriate communications” — 20,000 to 30,000 pages of emails and other documents from Allen’s communications with Kelley between 2010 and 2012 — are under review. The official would not say whether they involved sexual matters or whether they are thought to include unauthorized disclosures of classified information. He said he did not know whether Petraeus is mentioned in the emails.