A combination photo shows CIA Director David Petraeus and General John Allen, the top US commander in Afghanistan. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/Yuri Gripas/Files
The scandal involving former CIA Director David Petraeus
widened today as US defence officials said they were looking
into "flirtatious" e-mails between General John Allen, the
top US commander in Afghanistan, and a woman at the centre of
Defence Department officials said they were sifting through
30,000 pages of email and other communications between Allen
and Jill Kelley, a Florida socialite whose complaints about
harassing messages led to the discovery of Petraeus' affair
with his biographer.
The revelation threatens to fell another of the US military's
biggest names after Petraeus' surprise resignation last week.
It also complicates President Barack Obama's efforts to wind
down the war in Afghanistan and reorganize his national
security team following his re-election.
A senior defence official told Reuters the emails between
Allen and Kelley were seen as potentially inappropriate
because they were "flirtatious" in nature, not because they
dealt with sensitive information. Allen has denied that the
two had a sexual relationship, officials said on condition of
defence Secretary Leon Panetta said Allen, a four-star Marine
Corps general, would stay in his job for the time being, and
the White House said Obama still had faith in Allen's ability
to command US troops in Afghanistan.
But asked how Obama saw the unfolding scandal at a time when
his priorities include impending "fiscal cliff," Press
Secretary Jay Carney said: "I certainly wouldn't call it
Obama suspended plans to transfer Allen to Europe, where he
was to be the top commander of US and allied forces in the
Both Allen and the official due to replace him in
Afghanistan, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, must be
confirmed by the US Senate before they can take their new
posts in February.
Top lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services Committee said
they would go ahead with a confirmation hearing for Dunford
on Thursday. Allen's appearance was cancelled.
Allen had just submitted recommendations on what role the
United States should play in Afghanistan after most American
combat troops withdraw by the end of 2014.
The investigations raised questions about how top US
officials in sensitive national security posts allowed
themselves to become so personally involved with the women.
Kelley, 37, is a fixture in military circles in Tampa,
Florida, where she was a volunteer social liaison at MacDill
Air Force Base, home to the U.S. Central Command. She and her
husband, surgeon Scott Kelley, became friends with Petraeus
when he was stationed there from 2008 to 2010.
Her complaints about harassing emails from the woman with
whom Petraeus had an affair, Paula Broadwell, prompted an FBI
investigation that ultimately disclosed Petraeus' involvement
People close to Petraeus say he had no romantic relationship
with Kelley, but Broadwell may have seen her as a rival.
Both Petraeus and Allen had recently intervened in a bitter
custody battle on behalf of Kelley's twin sister. The men
wrote letters in September to the District of Columbia
Superior Court in support of the twin sister, Natalie Khawam,
as she sought more visitation rights with her son, court
Officials suggested they were concerned by the volume of
communications between Allen and Kelley over the past two
years, rather than the possibility that the two shared
classified material or engaged in an extramarital affair.
"We are concerned about inappropriate communications. We are
not going to speculate as to what is contained in these
documents," one official said.
Details on content of the emails were not revealed.
The FBI referred the case to the Pentagon on Sunday and
Panetta directed the defence Department's Inspector General
to handle the investigation. Panetta also informed lawmakers
who oversee military affairs.
FBI agents searched the Charlotte, North Carolina, house of
Broadwell late Monday in a sign that the case involving
Petraeus was not fully closed.
Agents entered the house carrying boxes at around 9pm and
emerged four hours later, carrying away what appeared to be
two computers and about 10 boxes.
Broadwell's family was not at home at the time.
US officials had said in recent days that their investigation
was largely complete and that prosecutors had determined it
was unlikely they would bring charges in that case, which
started when Kelley contacted an FBI agent in Tampa about
harassing emails from an anonymous source.
That FBI agent, who has not been identified, came under
scrutiny himself after it was discovered he had sent
shirtless photographs of himself to Kelley "long before" this
investigation, a law enforcement official told Reuters.
The FBI agent, who alerted an FBI cyber squad to the
Broadwell case, apparently became frustrated at the pace of
the investigation and complained to a member of Congress
about it, the official said.
The emails between the two women were of a "childish",
jealous nature and showed some one-upmanship of trying to
come across as being more important to Petraeus, the official
Lawmakers and others have questioned whether Broadwell, who
co-wrote a biography of the decorated former general,
obtained classified information from him or another source.
Panetta had earlier said Petraeus did the right thing by
stepping down, given the security concerns, but he was
saddened by the end of the retired general's distinguished