The sex scandal that led to the resignation of CIA director David Petraeus has widened, with the top US commander in Afghanistan under investigation for alleged “inappropriate communications” with a woman who is said to have received threatening e-mails from General Petraeus’ former lover.
• David Petraeus scandal could now expand
• Gen Allen’s position under review by Pentagon
• Allen was due to take up role as Nato commander in Europe
Defence Secretary Leon Panetta revealed that the Pentagon had begun an internal investigation into thousands of pages of e-mails from General John Allen to Jill Kelley, a second woman involved in the Petraeus case.
Gen Allen succeeded Gen Petraeus as the top American commander in Afghanistan in July 2011, and his nomination to become the next commander of the US European Command and the commander of Nato forces in Europe has been put on hold.
In a White House statement, National Security spokesman Tommy Vietor said President Barack Obama has not confirmed Gen Allen’s nomination at Mr Panetta’s request. Mr Obama, the statement said, “remains focused on fully supporting our extraordinary troops and coalition partners in Afghanistan, who Gen Allen continues to lead as he has so ably done for over a year”.
Meanwhile, FBI agents prepared a timeline of the Petraeus affair and searched the home of Paula Broadwell, the 40-year-old biographer with whom 60-year-old Gen Petraeus had an affair that led to his abrupt resignation last week.
The resignation and his acknowledgement of an affair stunned Washington because of the former general’s highly disciplined and well-praised career, which had led some to speculate whether a run for the White House would be in his future. The retired army general headed US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan before taking charge of the CIA.
It was Ms Broadwell’s alleged threatening e-mails to Ms Kelley, a 37-year-old Florida woman who is a Petraeus family friend, that led to the FBI’s discovery of communications between Ms Broadwell and Gen Petraeus indicating they were having an affair.
A Pentagon official said 20,000 to 30,000 pages of e-mails and other documents from Gen Allen’s communications with Ms Kelley between 2010 and 2012 are under review. He would not say whether they involved sexual matters or whether they are thought to include unauthorised disclosures of classified information. He said he did not know whether Gen Petraeus is mentioned in the e-mails. Gen Allen has denied any wrongdoing.
The new details in the case brought expressions of amazement in Congress, already in an uproar over the Petraeus affair. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, called the case “a Greek tragedy”. “It’s just tragic,” he added, “This has the elements in some ways of a Hollywood movie or a trashy novel.”
Politicians have said they should have been told earlier about the affair and are asking what the FBI knew and when it notified top Obama administration officials.
The White House was not informed of the FBI investigation that involved Gen Petraeus until 6 November, election day, although agents began looking at Gen Petraeus’ actions months earlier, during the summer.
Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein said she first learned of the matter from the media late last week and confirmed it in a phone call to the then-CIA director on Friday. Mr Obama accepted Gen Petraeus’ resignation on Friday.
The Justice Department – of which the FBI is part – is supposed to refrain from sharing detailed information about its criminal investigations with the White House. Extramarital affairs are viewed as particularly risky for intelligence officers because they might be blackmailed to keep the affair quiet. For military personnel, adultery is a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
According to two federal law enforcement officials, the FBI initially began a criminal investigation of unsigned, harassing e-mails that were sent, beginning last May, to Ms Kelley. She and her husband, Scott, were long-time friends of Gen Petraeus and his wife, Holly. FBI agents traced the alleged cyber harassment to Ms Broadwell and discovered she was exchanging intimate messages with a private Gmail account. Further investigation revealed that account belonged to Gen Petraeus, under an alias.
Agents later told Gen Petraeus that Ms Broadwell sent e-mails warning Ms Kelley to stay away from the general and carrying a threatening tone.
Gen Petraeus has denied giving Ms Broadwell any sensitive military information. Both have been questioned by FBI agents twice in recent weeks, with each acknowledging the affair in separate interviews.
A SOCIALITE and volunteer social liason to MacDill air force base in Tampa Bay, Florida, Jill Kelley triggered the probe into Petraeus when she complained to the FBI of harassing e-mails from an anonymous woman, later identified as Broadwell. She also complained of ”inappropriate communication” from Gen Allen.
Commander of US and Nato troops in Afghanistan, John Allen is being investigated for sending “inappropriate” e-mails to a woman. The probe has set back his appointment as Nato’s next supreme allied commander.
THE man at the centre of the scandal, 58-year-old David Petraeus has a reputation for being ambitious and competitive. With a career stretching 37 years, he is seen as one of the brightest US commanders. He has cheated death twice – when his parachute failed during a training jump in 1990 and when shot accidentally in 1991 - before leading the 2007 troop surge in Iraq.
AN ANTI-TERRORISM professional academic and Petraeus’ biographer, Paula Broadwell, who is also a former military officer, first met the general in 2006, while he was a speaker at Harvard University. She is married to Scott Broadwell, an interventional radiologist who graduated from medical school in 1996.