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

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
Strange 'quack' noises could be undersea chatter of Minke whales
science
Voices
voices Furore is yet another example of shameful Westminster evasion, says Nigel Farage
News
weird news... and film it, obviously
Arts & Entertainment
tv
Sport
sport
News
Matthew Mcnulty and Jessica Brown Findlay in 'Jamaica Inn'
mediaHundreds complain over dialogue levels in period drama
News
peopleJay Z and Beyoncé to buy £5.5m London townhouse
Voices
voicesMoyes' tragedy is one the Deputy PM understands all too well, says Matthew Norman
Arts & Entertainment
Rocker of ages: Chuck Berry
musicWhy do musicians play into old age?
News
Jilly's jewels: gardener Alan Titchmarsh
peopleCountry Life magazine's list of 'gallant' public figures throws light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
Sport
John Terry goes down injured in the 70th minute
sportAtletico Madrid 0 Chelsea 0: Blues can finish the job at Stamford Bridge, but injuries to Terry and Cech are a concern for Mourinho
Student
student
News
<b>Rebecca Adlington</b>
<br />This, the first British swimmer to win two
Olympic gold medals in 100 years, is the eversmiling
face of the athletes who will, we're
confident, make us all proud at London 2012
peopleRebecca Adlington on 'nose surgery'
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Brand Manager, Bermondsey

£32000 - £35000 per annum: Charter Selection: This highly successful organisat...

International Brand Manager, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum, Benefits: Bonus: Charter Selection: This rapidly ex...

English Teacher

£450 - £750 per annum: Randstad Education Leicester: English teacher required ...

Humanities Teacher

£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: Randstad Education is curren...

Day In a Page

Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home

It's not always fun in the sun: Moving abroad does not guarantee happiness

Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home
Migrants in Britain a decade on: They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire

Migrants in Britain a decade on

They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire
Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

The 'Thick of It' favourite thinks the romcom is an 'awful genre'. So why is he happy with a starring role in Sky Living's new Lake District-set series 'Trying Again'?
Why musicians play into their old age

Why musicians play into their old age

Nick Hasted looks at how they are driven by a burning desire to keep on entertaining fans despite risking ridicule
How can you tell a gentleman?

How can you tell a gentleman?

A list of public figures with gallant attributes by Country Life magazine throws a fascinating light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

The duo behind Asos and Achica have launched a new venture offering haute couture to help make furry companions fashionable
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire
Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

Celebrate St George’s Day with a nice cup of tea. Now you just need to get the water boiled
Sam Wallace: Why Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term

Sam Wallace

Why Ryan Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term
Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

Having smashed Sergei Bubka's 21-year-old record, the French phenomenon tells Simon Turnbull he can go higher
Through the screen: British Pathé opens its archives

Through the screen

British Pathé opens its archives
The man behind the papier mâché mask

Frank Sidebottom

The man behind the papier mâché mask
Chris Marker: Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

Chris Marker retrospective is a revelation
Boston runs again: Thousands take to the streets for marathon as city honours dead and injured of last year's bombing

Boston runs again

Thousands of runners take to the streets as city honours dead of last year
40 years of fostering and still holding the babies (and with no plans to retire)

40 years of fostering and holding the babies

In their seventies and still working as specialist foster parents