Marine Gen. John Allen, left, meets with Army Gen. David Petraeus in July 2011, prior to Allen assuming command of ISAF-Afghanistan from Petraeus. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says emails sent by Allen to a woman involved in the Petraeus sex scandal have triggered their own probe. (Navy)
The sex scandal that forced David Petraeus to step down as CIA director is now threatening the career of Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
President Barack Obama has nominated Allen to become U.S. European Command chief, but his future suddenly is in jeopardy. In a statement released early Nov. 13, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced he has recommended that Obama delay that nomination.
Allen’s involvement in the incident adds a major twist to an FBI investigation that burst onto the public scene Friday. That’s when Petraeus, a retired Army four-star general, announced his resignation, citing an extramarital affair with biographer Paula Broadwell.
Over the next three days, details of an FBI probe that started over the summer began to emerge.
The FBI’s cyber unit began looking into harassing emails received by Jill Kelley, who was a social liaison for Joint Special Operations Command in Florida. Those electronic notes allegedly were sent to Kelley by Broadwell.
As federal investigators culled Broadwell’s email account, they determined she was romantically involved with Petraeus.
During their work, FBI agents allegedly found 20,000 to 30,000 pages of emails between Allen and Kelley, according to reports. It was unclear what may have been in those alleged emails.
Retired Gen. James “Spider” Kelly told CNN that even shy of extramarital shenanigans, “30,000 pages of email is a lot of time to be spending on the computer with a party planner.”
Allen was slated to testify Nov. 15 before the Senate Armed Services Committee about his nomination to become U.S. European Command chief. But that is now not going to happen.
Panetta said he has directed the Pentagon’s inspector general to investigate Allen’s involvement in the scandal. Though his nomination is on hold and despite the IG probe, Allen will remain the top U.S. and NATO general in Afghanistan.
“While the matter is under investigation and before the facts are determined, General Allen will remain commander,” Panetta said. “His leadership has been instrumental in achieving the significant progress that [NATO], working alongside our Afghan partners, has made in bringing greater security to the Afghan people and in ensuring that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists.”
In a separate twist revealed late Monday by the Wall Street Journal, the FBI agent who was asked by Kelley to investigate the emails sent shirtless pictures to her and was removed from the case.