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Scandal Investigation Ensnares U.S. Commander in Afghanistan Scandal Investigation Ensnares U.S. Commander in Afghanistan

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National Security

Scandal Investigation Ensnares U.S. Commander in Afghanistan

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U.S. Marine Gen. John Allen in Afghanistan in May of 2012. (Michael Hirsh)

The FBI investigation that led to the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus uncovered between 20,000 and 30,000 documents and emails containing “potentially inappropriate” communication involving Gen. John Allen, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, The Washington Post reported.

The Pentagon announced early Tuesday that the FBI discovered email between Allen, who succeeded Petraeus as the top allied commander in Afghanistan, and Jill Kelley, the 37-year-old Tampa woman whose complaints to the FBI launched the investigation that led Petraeus to resign, The Post reported.

 

The FBI notified the Pentagon of Allen’s involvement in the investigation on Sunday, according to The Post, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a statement that he has referred the matter to the Defense Department’s Inspector General for review. Allen will remain in his post while the matter is investigated, the Pentagon said.

The investigation came to light just days after President Obama was reelected, and is preparing his administration for a second term.

Allen was nominated to head the military’s European command and to become NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. That nomination is now on hold, according to The Post. Meanwhile, Panetta asked the Senate to expedite the confirmation hearing for Allen’s successor in Afghanistan, Gen. Joseph Dunford. A hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee had already been scheduled for Thursday.

 

The nature of the relationship between Allen and Kelley is unclear, as is the content of the emails, which were sent between 2010 and 2012, and other documents. Panetta’s statement said that Allen is “entitled to due process in this matter.”

Kelley helped launch the investigation that led Petraeus to resign when she complained to the FBI that she was receiving harassing emails from Paula Broadwell, who wrote a biography of Petraeus. Broadwell and Petraeus, who are both married, later admitted to the FBI that they were engaged in a romantic affair.

The Post reported that Petraeus did not initially intend to resign from the CIA, but when he found out his affair would go public, he changed his mind.

On Monday evening, FBI agents searched Broadwell’s home in Charlotte, N.C., carrying away boxes of materials, The Post reported. Agents were searching for classified or sensitive documents.

 

In an editorial on Tuesday, The Post called the Petraeus investigation “a serious blow to the nation’s national security leadership,” coming at a critical moment when both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta are looking to leave their posts and the administration is dealing with further violence in the Middle East.

The editorial said President Obama made the “right call” in accepting Petraeus’ resignation, saying the retired general’s behavior was “reckless.” “It is a harm brought about by his own actions, for which he has taken responsibility,” the paper wrote. “But it will hurt the country no less.”

Meanwhile, several lawmakers are questioning why the FBI even got involved in the investigation. And further, some, like Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., have aired concern as to why top officials were not notified for several months after the investigation was launched. King called it “inexcusable” on Tuesday.

“(The FBI) had the absolute obligation to tell the president because Gen. Petraeus was representing the United States in various countries around the world,” King said on NBC’s Today. “He was on a number of missions, negotiating very sensitive arrangements.”

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