Gen. David Petraeus and Gen. John Allen appear together at the White House on April 28, 2011, as President Obama tapped Petraeus to head the CIA and Allen to assume command of forces in Afghanistan.(Photo: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images)
WASHINGTON -- Months ago, the FBI linked the top U.S. commander in
Afghanistan to a widening scandal that resulted in CIA director David
Petraeus' resignation last week, a federal law enforcement official said
But the White House learned of Marine Gen. John Allen's
involvement only last week, days before he was to appear before a Senate
committee as President Obama's nominee to be the chief U.S. military
commander in Europe.
Allen's Thursday confirmation hearing before
the Senate Armed Services Committee was postponed Tuesday, pending the
outcome of a Defense Department's review of Allen's questionable e-mail
communications with 37-year-old Tampa socialite Jill Kelley, who
triggered the broader FBI inquiry that ultimately cost Petraeus his job
The e-mails, described by the law enforcement official
as flirtatious, were contained in thousands of documents recovered from
Kelley's computer. A separate source familiar with the case said Kelley,
who is married, was not involved in a sexual relationship with Allen,
who also is married. He has denied any wrongdoing.
involvement represented a dramatic widening of an inquiry that began in
late spring when cyberstalking allegations were first brought to the FBI
by Kelley, who has been described as an unpaid social liaison at
Florida's MacDill Air Force Base, which is headquarters to the U.S.
Central Command. She is not a U.S. government employee.
ALLEN: Petraeus' successor in Afghanistan linked to scandal
alleged harassing e-mails were later traced to Petraeus' biographer
Paula Broadwell, whose records revealed an affair between Broadwell and
the then-CIA director and concern that classified material might have
The law enforcement official, who has been
briefed on the matter but is not authorized to comment publicly, said
Allen was never a subject of the criminal investigation. Investigators
also have since concluded that no classified information was leaked.
however, was regarded as a potential witness in the harassment inquiry
because of his connection to Kelley, the official said, adding that
Broadwell is believed to have also communicated with Allen. Those
communications were not of a romantic nature, the official said.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said that President Obama continues to have "faith" in Allen.
sidestepped questions on whether the president was satisfied with the
FBI's handling of the probe. Petraeus' link to Broadwell was reported to
the White House last week.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Allen would remain in his position while the investigation continues.
leadership has been instrumental in achieving the significant progress
that ISAF, 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," Panetta said. "He is
entitled to due process in this matter."
On Capitol Hill, Senate
Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., said there was no immediate
reason for Allen to step down. "I'm not going to jump to conclusions."
a Tuesday briefing with CIA Acting Director Michael Morrell, House
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, said she was not entirely
satisfied with how Congress was notified of the Petraeus affair, but she
was confident that there were no national security concerns.
think that it's really important to note that this was a personal
indiscretion, as far as we know,'' Pelosi said. "Why somebody would be
personally indiscreet is their own problem. Why they would do it over
e-mail is beyond my imagination."
It was Petraeus who recommended Allen to become his deputy when Petraeus took over Central Command, headquartered in Tampa.
told former staffers and friends that he had regularly visited the
Kelleys' home overlooking Tampa Bay. Kelley served as a sort of social
ambassador for U.S. Central Command, hosting parties for the general
when Petraeus was commander there from 2008 to 2010.
Friends and former staff members of Petraeus told the Associated
Press that he has assured them his relationship with Kelley was
platonic. They said Petraeus was shocked to learn last summer of
Broadwell's e-mails to Kelley.
In a White House statement early
Tuesday, National Security spokesman Tommy Vietor said Obama has held
Allen's nomination at Panetta's request. 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."
MORE: Petraeus and Broadwell used 'e-mail trick' during affair
Monday, FBI agents searched the Charlotte home of Broadwell, who is
also Petraeus' biographer. Broadwell had high security clearances as
part of her former job as a reserve Army major in military intelligence.
But those clearances are only in effect when a soldier is on active
duty, which she was not at the time she researched the biography.
spokeswoman Shelley Lynch said agents arrived shortly before 9 p.m. at
Broadwell's home. Lynch declined to elaborate on what prompted the
Earlier Monday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the
chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the FBI had
concluded that no classified material related to Petraeus had been
After a Tuesday briefing with acting CIA Director
Michael Morrell on Capitol Hill, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif,
said she was not entirely satisfied with how Congress was notified of
the Petraeus affair, but she was confident that there were no national
"I think there are some answers we have to have
about notification of Congress, I don't have any reason to think that
there are any national security issues at stake in what has transpired,"
she said. "I think that it's really important to note that this was a
personal indiscretion, as far as we know. Why somebody would be
personally indiscreet is their own problem, why they would do it over
e-mail is beyond my imagination."
A Pentagon official said he did not know whether Petraeus is mentioned in the e-mails.
FBI also looked into whether a separate set of e-mails between Petraeus
and Broadwell might involve any security breach. That will be a key
question Wednesday in meetings involving congressional intelligence
committee leaders, FBI deputy director Sean Joyce and Morrell.
In another twist to the case, the FBI agent Kelley asked to
investigate the harassing e-mails is being investigated by the FBI for
allegedly sending a shirtless picture of himself to Kelley, according to
a federal law enforcement official.
The photograph was allegedly
sent to Kelley well before she brought him the harassment allegations in
the late spring or early summer. After receiving them, he passed them
to cybercrime investigators in the Tampa office, the official said.
The official said the agent's actions had no bearing on the "legitimacy'' of the harassment allegations.
"Frankly, it's a side issue; an embarrassment,'' the official said.
official described the photograph as a shirtless image of the agent,
but "not obscene.'' The matter is being handled as a "performance
issue,'' the official said.
Allen earned a reputation as an
effective and innovative commander in western Iraq in 2007 when he
helped stitch together a loose network of Sunni tribes that allied
themselves with U.S. forces and turned on al-Qaeda.
accomplishment helped beat down a vicious insurgency that threatened to
overwhelm Iraq and drew the attention of Petraeus, who was overall
commander in Iraq at the time.
Obama on Friday accepted Petraeus' resignation.
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
The White House wasn't informed of the FBI
investigation that involved Petraeus until Nov. 6, Election Day,
although agents began looking at Petraeus' actions months earlier,
sometime 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
"It's just tragic," Rep. Peter King, chairman of the
House Homeland Security Committee, said on NBC. "This has the elements
in some ways of a Hollywood movie or a trashy novel."