Top general swept up in Petraeus scandal; another investigation under way
WASHINGTON — Congress returned from its election break Tuesday to grapple with the shocking resignation of former CIA Director David Petraeus in a sex scandal that widened to possibly taint the Marine general who commands U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan.
The unexpected turn of events prompted President Barack Obama to put on hold his nomination of Marine Gen. John Allen to be the top NATO commander in Europe, pending the outcome of a Pentagon investigation into “inappropriate” emails that U.S. defense officials said Allen had sent to a central figure in the scandal, which was ignited by Petraeus’ admission to an extramarital affair.
Allen’s connection to the scandal became known on Tuesday after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced while flying to Asia that he’d asked the Pentagon inspector general’s office to investigate the emails between the four-star Marine general and Kelley.
Kelley had been an honorary ambassador to the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, where Allen served as second in command before his June 2011 promotion to oversee the war in Afghanistan. Army Lt. Col. T.J. Taylor, a CENTCOM spokesman, said that Kelley had no official position at the command.
“She is a volunteer and a private citizen, not an employee,” he said. “Because of this, and because there is an ongoing investigation, we have no additional information to provide.”
The contents of those emails were not revealed, although a Pentagon official briefed on them said they contained possibly flirtatious language, such terms as “sweetheart,” which he noted could also have been a sign of a casual manner of address. The official requested anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
An FBI investigation uncovered Petraeus’ affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, late this summer.
The probe led to Broadwell, an Army reservist, a West Point graduate and researcher who met Petraeus when he made an appearance at Harvard University.
For his part, Allen has maintained that he had done nothing inappropriate, the Pentagon officials said.