Shock and phwoar! US military rocked by spreading scandal

Pentagon investigates 'inappropriate communications' between General John Allen and Jill Kelley

The sex scandal that has already cost David Petraeus his job as Director of the CIA widened yesterday with confirmation that the Pentagon is investigating "inappropriate communications" between General John Allen, the top US commander in Afghanistan, and a woman involved in the case.

The FBI said it had notified the Pentagon on Sunday that General Allen was the source of between 20,000 and 30,000 pages of documents sent, mostly by email, to 37-year-old Jill Kelley, who already has an important supporting role in the slowly unfolding Petraeus drama.

It was Ms Kelley, a volunteer "social organiser" for top brass at the US Central Command in Tampa, Florida, who started the chain of events that led to General Petraeus's resignation on Friday when she told the FBI during the summer of threatening emails she had been receiving from an unidentified source. It turned out they were coming from Paula Broadwell, a biographer of General Petraeus with whom he had been having an affair.

The exact nature of the material sent by General Allen to Ms Kelley from 2010 until recently was not known last night, and sources close to him insisted that his relationship with her was platonic. A Defence Department official said there was concern over "potentially inappropriate" information in the missives – but another official told the Associated Press that the "flirtatious" language merely amounted to terms such as "sweetheart" and "dear" and had been blown out of proportion, containing no classified information.

While General Allen still had his post last night, Leon Panetta, the US Defence Secretary, asked President Barack Obama to withdraw the nomination of General Allen as the next commander of US European Command. However, Mr Obama appeared to offer political backing to the latest man caught in the scandal, with a White House spokesman saying the resident "thinks very highly of General Allen and his service to his country, as well as the job he has done in Afghanistan".

Returning from the election recess to Capitol Hill yesterday, members of Congress barely knew what to make of a scandal which may turn out to have serious national se- curity implications. "It's really a Greek tragedy," Representative Peter King, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said. "This has the elements of a Hollywood movie."

After months of a presidential election that saw nary a jot of nefarious doings, the gods of scandal unleashed a tawdry tale involving two of the country's most revered military figures. Indeed some saw presidential potential in General Petraeus.

At its simplest, it centres on Ms Broadwell, who first came to know General Petraeus as the author of his biography. As she gained more access to him, so a sexual affair blossomed. The FBI stumbled on their extramarital entanglement when it discovered that Ms Broadwell had been the source of the emails to Ms Kelley, apparently of a "back-off-my-guy" nature. The FBI became involved when agents realised they contained sensitive information about the CIA director's whereabouts, according to reports last night.

General Petraeus has acknowledged the affair, which he said began after he became CIA director in 2010 and was no longer a serving general. An adulterous affair is a crime under US military law, which also explains the stakes for General Allen should evidence of a sexual affair between him and Ms Kelley surface.

The FBI is not done yet with the Broadwell connection. On Monday, agents went to her North Carolina home and left with boxes of documents and her computer, suggesting the agency wants to be certain that no classified material passed between the former CIA director and the married Ms Broadwell.

The Pentagon clearly will be looking to ensure the same is true of the extensive Allen-Kelley chronicles. Meanwhile, new details emerged almost hourly. We have learnt, for instance, that the FBI agent who first responded to the request for help from Ms Kelley was swiftly taken off the case because he had been emailing her shirtless pictures of himself. The New York Post reported that both General Petraeus and General Allen had intervened in an especially nasty child custody case on behalf of Ms Kelley's twin sister.

While Ms Broadwell seized the headlines at the start of the scandal, Ms Kelley's relationship with Messrs Petraeus and Allen is now getting more urgent attention.

Theirs was a triangle that seemingly began when General Petraeus led Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, near the home of Ms Kelley, who is married, prior to taking the Afghanistan command. General Allen was his deputy at MacDill.

The scandal has widening political ramifications. Leaders on Capitol Hill are asking why it took the FBI until the weekend to make public what they had known about General Petraeus and Ms Broadwell since the summer.

The White House learnt of it on election day. It upends Mr Obama's reshuffle of his cabinet and his top military commanders. And it comes just as General Allen was detailing a final blueprint for drawing down force numbers in Afghanistan.

As the scandal engulfs Washington, the inevitable effect will also be to undermine America's credibility as the world's military leader in Afghanistan and Nato. Lurking also are questions about the CIA and the 11 September attack on the US consulate in Benghazi that left four Americans dead, including the US ambassador to Libya.

Many on Capitol Hill are demanding that General Petraeus testify at forthcoming hearings on the tragedy, where he will be grilled on why he told Congress members after the attacks that it had erupted spontaneously from a riot outside the consulate, when the evidence has since suggested he already knew it had been conducted by militants.

Jill Kelley: Party host

Together with her surgeon husband Scott, Jill Kelley, pictured, was a self-appointed social ambassador for servicemen stationed at the MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, home to the US Central Command. Described as a patriotic woman who threw her energies first into political fundraising before turning her support to the armed forces, she became friends with General Petraeus and General Allen. She hosted lavish parties for military personnel – which apparently contributed to huge credit card debts that led to the couple being sued by their banks. Guests enjoyed champagne and cigars while listening to music performed by string quartets, according to reports in the US media.

Friends have reportedly insisted that her relationship with General Petraeus was purely platonic. So far, all she and her husband have said publicly about their involvement in the scandal came in a modest statement issued on Sunday. "We and our family have been friends with General Petraeus and his family for over five years," it read. "We respect his and his family's privacy and want the same for us and our three children."

Rob Hastings

The CIA Director

One of the US military's most decorated officers, David Petraeus resigned as Director of the CIA last week after admitting to an affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell

The General

John Allen replaced Petraeus as head of US forces in Afghanistan and was due to be named Commander of US European Command. He is under pressure for sending 'flirtatious' emails to Jill Kelley

The socialite

FBI agents were tipped off about the affair between Petraeus and Ms Broadwell after Jill Kelley received 'abusive' emails from the biographer. She is a liaison officer and socialite from Tampa

The Biographer

There has been no word from Paula Broadwell, a married academic, since new of her affair with Petraeus broke. Colleagues were amazed at the amount of access she had to the former CIA boss

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins win the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Call Handler

£14500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a Sales Ca...

Recruitment Genius: Support Worker

£14560 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers unique pers...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor