General’s Sex Scandal Engulfs Afghanistan Commander Allen

Just when you thought the sex and email scandal started by Petraeus’ resignation was dying down, here’s the AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The sex scandal that led to CIA Director David Petraeus’ downfall widened Tuesday with word the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan is under investigation for thousands of alleged “inappropriate communications” with another woman involved in the case.

Even as the FBI prepared a timeline for Congress about the investigation that brought to light Petraeus’ extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta revealed that the Pentagon had begun an internal investigation into emails from Gen. John Allen to a Florida woman involved in the case.

Allen succeeded Petraeus as the top American commander in Afghanistan in July 2011, and his nomination to become the next commander of U.S. European Command and the commander of NATO forces in Europe has now been put on hold, as the scandal seemed certain to ensnare another acclaimed military figure.

In a White House statement early Tuesday, National Security spokesman Tommy Vietor said President Barack 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.”

The Florida woman is of course Jill Kelley, the 37-year-old Tampa socialite who claims she received threatening emails from Petraeus’ mistress (and biographer) Paula Broadwell. Broadwell had thought Kelley was a threat to her relationship with Petraeus and I had wondered if Kelley might indeed be another other-woman, but this throws an entirely new cat among the pigeons. The twist in this tale is new – but the underlying story of powerful men with mid or late-life crises is all too familiar.

Holly Petraeus (left) with Scott (center) and Jill Kelley (right) at a party. Source:

Meanwhile, over at Danger Room, they’re quoting Allen’s aides, mostly anonymously, as saying the general was not having an affair with Kelley.

Bonus Read: Petraeus and the Rise of Narcissistic Leaders (Jeffrey Pfeffer/Harvard Business Review):

There is a simple power story often told about such behavior: research shows that people with more power tend to pay less attention to others. They are more action-oriented, pursue their own goals, and exhibit disinhibited behavior in part because they believe that rules don’t apply to them; they are special and invulnerable.

All of this is true, but nonetheless leaves at least a couple of questions unanswered.  First, as my friend Bob Sutton noted in a conversation, these behaviors seem to be confined mostly to men.  We seldom hear of powerful women who can’t control their urges.  Second, it at least feels as if this sort of behavior and the career consequences that result seem to be occurring more frequently now.  Maybe that is because of more public scrutiny and the operation of social media.  But maybe something else is going on — namely we are choosing more narcissist leaders and the misbehavior is not just the consequence of power but also of excessive narcissism.


Wait, What??! The federal agent who launched the investigation that ultimately led to the resignation of Central Intelligence Agency chief David Petraeus “sent shirtless photos to Ms. Kelley well before the email investigation began”. WTF?

Double Weird: An ex Petraeus aide tells the WaPo that “unpaid social liason” Jill Kelley was a “self-appointed” go-between for Central Command officers with Lebanese and other Middle East government officials. What a way to run a country! And Kelley’s twin sister, Natalie Khawam, who has been described as unstable by some who know her, was married to Grayson Wolfe who served as Manager of the Private Sector Development Office of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, Iraq and now works for a private equity fund that’s a home for retired Bushies. At this rate, Dan Senor is going to turn out to be his own granpaw and David Petraeus his illigimate son!

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Steve Hynd

Most recently I was Editor in Chief of The Agonist from Feb 2012 to Feb 2013. My blogging began at Newshoggers and I’ve had the immense pleasure of working with some great writers there and around the web ever since, including at Crooks & Liars. I'm a late 40′s, Scottish ex-pat, now married to a wonderful Texan, with Honours in Philosophy from Univ. of Stirling, UK 1986. I worked most of life in business insurance industry (fire, accident, liability) including 12 years as a broker/underwriter/correspondent at Lloyd’s of London. Being from the other side of the pond, my political interests tend to focus on how US foreign policy affects the rest of the planet. Other interests include early and dark-ages British history, literature and cognitive philosophy/science.

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  • David Petraeus scandal widens to include Barack Obama’s cabinet

    The crisis over General David Petraeus’s resignation reached Barack Obama’s cabinet for the first time as it was claimed the US Attorney General knew about the affair for months but kept it secret until the day of the presidential election.

    The Telegraph, By Raf Sanchez, November 13

    Eric Holder, the head of the Justice Department, was reportedly told in the late summer that FBI agents were investigating the former CIA director’s sexual relationship with Paula Broadwell, his biographer.

    The information was kept inside the Justice Department until last week, even though FBI agents had already discovered classified information on Mrs Broadwell’s computer.

    Allegations that one of the President’s closest allies had known about the affair fuelled theories of a cover-up as the scandal expanded to include a second woman and continued to shake Washington.

    Mrs Broadwell’s father said his daughter was the victim of an attempt to hide “something else entirely”, while friends of Gen Petraeus suggested a link between the resignation and his scheduled appearance later this week before a Congressional committee investigating the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.

  • Paula Broadwell, downfall of a great man, blah, blah, blah

    WaPo, By Melinda Henneberger, November 12

    More than a few shocking facts have become public knowledge since retired Gen. David Petraeus resigned as head of the CIA on Friday, citing an extramarital affair.

    This, for instance, is a doozy where I come from: In Monday’s Washington Post, Greg Jaffe reports that in Afghanistan, “[p]rominent members of conservative, Washington-based defense think tanks were given permanent office space at [Petraeus’s] headquarters and access to military aircraft to tour the battlefield. They provided advice to field commanders that sometimes conflicted with orders the commanders were getting from their immediate bosses.”

  • The Kelley girls: the Pentagon’s version of the Kardashians.

    Here is what the Pentagon does NOT need. It does not need Americans getting a peek into the lifestyles of the top commanders of our armed forces. It doesn’t need us to know about the passenger planes at their personal disposal, their global conference locations, the government-owned resorts they can access, their pension plans, or their conflict-ridden consulting assignments given to them when they retire. It certainly does not want us to know about cosy business relationships with Republican think tanks, and the very last thing it needs is anybody asking how the Pentagon spends taxpayer money.

    Americans are by now well-trained to reverence all and every aspect of the US military. We adulate the commanders, who are the only government people to get quick approval from the Senate on their appointments. Hollywood produces worshipful movies and TV shows about the military, with “technical assistance” from the military itself. Tens of millions of dollars are spent yearly by the Pentagon on shaping public opinion about the Pentagon and the wars it wages. The dirty part of war – the sweetheart contracts, the unaudited expenditures, the strategic and tactical failures, the unsavory foreign relationships, the grotesque consumption of energy, the body bags hidden from public sight at Dover Air Base – needs to be kept secret. The public must continue in its genuflection to the military, emphasized by our need to thank every soldier, sailor, or marine we meet for their service. Most especially, no one should ever be allowed to do a cost benefit analysis of what “defense” we are getting for the enormous investments in money and resources thrown at the military and its corporate and political allies.

    Not surprisingly, there is not one member of Congress who can be considered a critic of the military. It’s been 40 years since anyone in Congress could be described as a scourge of defense spending (William Proxmire was probably the last of the breed). The press is almost entirely in the pocket of the Pentagon, and when someone in the media raises serious questions, like the Boston Globe did a year ago, the story dies quickly. The number of authors who write critically about the military can be counted on one hand.

    So when celebrated generals are found to engage in dalliances with ambitious young women, when “unpaid” women act as social butterflies for the high command, when right wing think tanks are found to get privileged access to the battlefield (at the expense of confusing battlefield commanders), you can bet the Pentagon will want to shut this down quickly.

    If this were just David Petraeus cheating on his wife, it shouldn’t be a public concern. But if defense secrets are being emailed carelessly, and if the Kelley girls are somehow entrusted to be liaison between the high command and foreign leaders, something very odd and unseemly and corrupt seems to be going on with the very people we are taught to reverence. That’s a prescription for complete disaster for the military. It has to keep the facade up at all costs that everything it does is noble and self-sacrificing. The American public idolizes the military because a massive publicity machine has taught it to do so, and that type of edifice, built on publicity campaigns rather than reality, can collapse in a minute.

  • FBI agent linked to Petraeus scandal identified as Frederick Humphries

    CBS News, November 14

    Frederick Humphries is the FBI agent who first brought the case of David Petraeus’ affair to the Bureau, CBS News confirms.

    As a friend of Jill Kelley, Humphries took her concerns about harassing emails to the FBI’s cyber squad in Tampa, CBS News’ Bob Orr reports. Eventually that investigation mushroomed and led to the discovery of the Broadwell/Petraeus affair and led to the retired general’s resignation as CIA director.

    Law enforcement sources say Humphries became disgruntled with being cut out of the information loop as the investigation grew wider and he eventually leaked information about the case to members of Congress.


    Sources also tell CBS News that Humphries once sent a shirtless picture of himself to Kelley, but it happened a long time ago, well before the investigation.

    AP: FBI Agent in Petraeus Scandal Has Been a Hero

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