The Petraeus scandal widens

Meet another possible participant in the Petraeus affair…one whose strange behavior came to light in the course of the FBI’s investigation into some other strange behavior:

US general John Allen, chief of the NATO mission in Afghanistan, is being investigated for sending “inappropriate” e-mails to Jill Kelley, the same woman who received threatening messages from Paula Broadwell, the alleged mistress of ex-CIA chief David Petraeus, according to sources at the Pentagon.

This revelation comes a few hours after FBI agents searched Broadwell’s home. Petraeus had to step down due to his extramarital affair. Now the Petraeus scandal has touched the man who was to be chief of the NATO mission in Afghanistan, who was found in the course of the investigation to have exchanged numerous e-mails with Jill Kelley, described as a family friend of Petraeus.

General John Allen, 58, was assigned to the supreme command of the allied forces in Afghanistan starting next spring. Allen was to appear at a Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday, but the White House has suspended his nomination.

The investigation has been confirmed by the US Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, who announced early Tuesday morning on board a flight to Perth, Australia, that he ordered the investigation of the US’s troops in Afghanistan, and that the inspector general of the Pentagon was going through some 20,000 to 30,000 pages of documents, many of them e-mails, according to the New York Times.

Panetta read a communication to the journalists who were also travelling with him to the Australia-US summit, stating that he had been informed by the FBI on Sunday of the investigations surrounding the general and his relations with the woman said to be a victim of cyber-stalking by General Petraeus’s biographer-mistress.

Asked by reporters whether the FBI had decided upon a criminal investigation, the defence secretary said that “that will be up to the FBI to decide”, although he didn’t rule out a possible connection to the Petraeus scandal.

Panetta said that the general, who, like Jill Kelley, is married, denied having behaved inappropriately, and added that he “deserves due process”, also emphasizing his successful leadership in the Afghan war.

Meanwhile, at 9:00 p.m. on Monday, a group of FBI agents entered the home of Paula Broadwell in Charlotte, North Carolina. They inspected the home over the course of two hours, then left the premises without recording any of what had transpired during the search.

The scandal blew open when the FBI began to investigate some menacing e-mails allegedly sent by Broadwell to Jill Kelley, a Washington socialite and family friend of Petraeus.

Kelley and her husband, Scott, sent out a press release stating that they have been friends of the Petraeus family for the past five years, and asking that their privacy be respected. Sources of CNN described Kelley as an “innocent victim”. After the scandal broke, Petraeus was forced on Friday to go before the media to acknowledge that he had had a love affair with Broadwell, a 40-year old “journalist” who had written his biography, and to tender his resignation.

Translation mine.

Suddenly, we have a pretty good idea of why Jill Kelley lawyered up with a very high-powered attorney yesterday. I guess this answers Gawker’s question! If Jill Kelley has been carrying on with a general — not Petraeus, but another commander in the Afghan war, this one much more recent, and tapped to head the entire NATO mission come next spring — it would explain a lot. There is a lot more at stake here than just some titillating extramarital hanky-panky; we are now looking at more than one possible very high-level national security breach. At the very least, this means two generals will be under investigation, and an exhaustive search of their e-mail correspondence, both personal and professional, is in order. Might as well inspect them all, say I…and do a radical rethink of why the CIA and the US military have so much power to begin with, while you’re at it. All this military hagiography is surely NOT good for the country.

Now, the only thing I still wonder is who was the FBI agent who sent shirtless pics of himself to the glamorous Mrs. Kelley, who looks like she could be a cousin of the Kardashians (albeit a much more tastefully dressed one.) Josh Marshall says he makes Petraeus look like the sanest of the bunch, and I’m inclined to agree. Hey, who’s to say we can’t enjoy the theatricality of this whole spy circus a bit? There’s gonna be plenty of serious shit surrounding the Benghazi débâcle before long. Might as well enjoy the comic relief while we can get it, kiddies…

PS: The plot thickens. Perhaps we should call our new soap opera As the Pentagon Turns? Also, oops!

PPS: And more thickening! NPR reports that Paula Broadwell is NOT the actual author of All (Up) In (My Vagina), the hagiography of Fmr. Gen. Petraeus. That honor goes to a WaHoPo columnist, Vernon Loeb. Which begs the question: Just exactly what WAS she doing the whole time she was with the general? Clearly not just compiling research files, ha ha.

PPPS: And back to Jill Kelley. Think I should wank-list her for not understanding what “honorary” means?

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