14 November 2012, 05:21

Obama stands by Gen. Allen amid Petraeus fallout

US President Barack Obama, Leon Panetta, David Petraeus and John Allen.
US President Barack Obama, Leon Panetta, David Petraeus and John Allen.
US President Barack Obama, Leon Panetta, David Petraeus and John Allen.

Both Barack Obama and the Pentagon insisted on Tuesday that they were standing by the top US commander in Afghanistan, John Allen, after he became the latest general to find himself entangled in the widening Petraeus emails scandal.

Spokesman Jay Carney said Mr. Obama had "faith" in Gen. John Allen, chosen to be the next Nato commander in Europe.

Harassment allegations by Mrs. Kelley helped unmask an affair between CIA Director David Petraeus and his biographer Paula Broadwell.

Gen. Petraeus resigned on Friday. Gen. Allen says he has done nothing wrong.

"I can tell you that the president thinks very highly of Gen. Allen and his service to his country, as well as the job he has done in Afghanistan," spokesman Jay Carney said, in the first White House reaction since Gen. Petraeus resigned on Friday.

He added that President Barack Obama was "very happy" with Gen. Allen's service and record.

Mr. Carney also asked reporters "not to extrapolate too broadly" about whether the cases involving Gen. Petraeus and Gen. Allen suggested a wider cultural problem within the US military.

"He has great confidence in the acting CIA director, the secretary of defence and the defence department to carry out the missions he has asked of them," Mr. Carney added.

The Pentagon says 20-30,000 pages of Gen. Allen's documents are being examined, with officials saying they contain "potentially inappropriate" emails between the general and Mrs. Kelley.

An anonymous senior US official who has read the emails said that the exchanges were relatively innocuous, even though they might be construed as unprofessional and flirty, reported BBC quoting the Associated Press.

The official said the emails included pet names such as "sweetheart" and "dear", but did not suggest an affair or the exchange of classified information.

Gen. Allen, 58, took over command of coalition forces in Afghanistan after David Petraeus moved to the CIA in 2011. He is due to become Nato's Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, pending Senate confirmation.

Currently commanding 68,000 US troops in Afghanistan, Gen. Allen was due to face a confirmation hearing in the US Senate on Thursday for his new role as supreme commander of Nato forces in Europe.

Petraeus scandal revelations ‘damaging politically’ to the FBI – interview

Rob Sachs

Senior lawmakers have called for an inquiry into the FBI’s handling of the sex scandal case investigation and the subsequent resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus. Voice of Russia American Edition’s Rob Sachs spoke with Mark Rom, an associate professor of government at Georgetown University, to discuss the wider ramifications of the scandal.

You know a sex scandal is pretty bad, but what were the real areas of concern for those looking at this, the areas where perhaps national security was compromised?

Oh my gosh! If this weren’t an ordinary sex scandal, it would be bad enough for the Administration. But the two parts that make it especially worrisome is that – did she have an access to classified information or Petraeus’s email accounts containing classified information. I don’t fully know the answer to that. I think Congress still want to know the answer to that.

Can we talk about how the FBI now is involved in this and why are coming under scrutiny?

Well, the FBI as our listeners know is coming into a context to this because they originally found Petraeus by accident. There were allegations by another unknown woman that she was receiving threatening emails. The FBI investigated this, they found the source of the emails which is Broadwell, and then through her emails they found the connection with Petraeus. People are worried about the FBI now because these revelations are fairly damaging politically. If the FBI knew them before the presidential election – why the FBI not make the report sooner so that the American public could have taken this information into account when making their decisions about selecting the next President.

To read the full version of the interview, please visit Voice of Russia American Edition

Top US commander in Afghanistan under investigation, Petraeus scandal widens

The top US commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, is under investigation for allegedly inappropriate communication with a woman at the center of the scandal involving former CIA Director David Petraeus, a senior US defense official said on Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a statement given to reporters flying with him to Australia that he asked that Allen's nomination to be Commander of US European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe be delayed and that President Barack Obama agreed.

Allen, who denies wrongdoing, will remain in his job, but Panetta encouraged the Senate to quickly act on approving his successor, General Joseph Dunford. Petraeus resigned on Friday as director of the CIA, saying he had engaged in an extramarital affair.

The Pentagon official told reporters the FBI had uncovered a trove of 30,000 pages of correspondence between Allen and Jill Kelley, a key figure in the scandal that brought down the storied former general and CIA chief.

Kelley, of Tampa, Florida, had alerted the FBI to receiving threatening emails earlier this year that were eventually traced to Broadwell. The FBI then found emails between Broadwell and Petraeus that revealed their affair.

The senior US defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters traveling with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta there was a "distinct possibility" the Allen emails were connected to the Petraeus investigation.

Panetta said in a statement that his department was informed by the FBI on Sunday about the case and that he had referred it to the Pentagon's inspector general for investigation.

He said Allen would remain in Kabul as the commander of NATO-led security forces but that he had asked the Senate Armed Services Committee to delay action on Allen's pending nomination to be NATO's supreme allied commander.

Panetta praised the general's work in Afghanistan, saying his leadership has been "instrumental" in securing progress in the war against Taliban insurgents.

However, Panetta said he requested that the Senate committee move promptly on the nomination for Allen's successor in Afghanistan, General Joseph Dunford.

It remained unclear what allegations Allen faced, and officials declined to comment as to whether the Marine general was accused of using his work email to communicate with Kelley or had disclosed any classified information.

"It's far too early to speculate on what the IG (inspector general) might find," the same defense official said.

"There is enough concern that we believe it was a prudent measure to take appropriate steps to direct an investigation and notify Congress," he said.

"We need to see where the facts lead in this matter, before jumping to any conclusions whatsoever."

He added that Allen insisted on his innocence.

"General Allen disputes that he has engaged in any wrongdoing in this matter," he said.

Kelley, a "social liaison" to an air force base in Tampa, had a longstanding family friendship with Petraeus but no official status in the military.

Both Petraeus and Allen served in Tampa, home to US Central Command, which Petraeus led before taking over as commander in Afghanistan in 2010.

FBI search house of Petraeus' mistress

FBI agents have searched the home of American journalist Paula Broadwell, who is believed to have had an extramarital affair with former CIA director David Petraeus, The Washington Post reports.

The search of the married mother-of-two’s house in the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, lasted for about two hours.

A source told the press the FBI was looking for any classified documents that could come into her possession during her affair with Petraeus. Local news channels broadcast footage of special agents carrying boxes out of Mrs. Broadwell’s house and shooting photos of the 40-year-old’s property.

As for Petraeus’ mistress herself, she has been absent from home since her lover’s resignation, The Washington Post claims.

US Senate investigates Petraeus affair fallout

Senate to open inquiry into FBI's investigation of affair with Paula Broadwell amid questions of why Congress wasn't told.

Former CIA chief David Petraeus was said Monday to be "devastated" by the scandal-tainted collapse of his career, as those around his former lover warned of more to "come out" regarding the affair.

"He sees this as a failure, and this is a man who has never failed at anything," said an unnamed friend, quoted on CNN.

Boylan, who said he spoke with Petraeus over the weekend, said the former general's wife of 38 years, Holly, is "furious." He also said Petraeus ended the affair four months ago.

Three days after the announcement that one of the biggest names in national security had stepped down from his post in disgrace, details of how the Petraeus affair became public are just beginning to emerge.

The FBI began to investigate Petraeus after it received complaints about "harassing" anonymous emails Broadwell sent to Jill Kelley, a state department military liaison who was friends with the general. In the course of reading Broadwell's emails, the FBI found sexually explicit correspondence with Petraeus, the New York Times first reported.

The investigation of Petraeus began over the summer but was kept secret from Congress.

One member of the Obama administration, attorney general Eric Holder, was informed of the investigation "by late summer," the Wall Street Journal quoted US officials as saying.

President Barack Obama reportedly found out Thursday morning – just one day before the affair was made public. Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein found out when she saw the headlines.

Feinstein has warned she will open a Senate investigation into the apparent delay in notification about an affair that "could have had an effect on national security."

Petraeus was scheduled to appear at a closed Senate hearing this week on the fatal attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Critics of the president sought to make the administration's early statements about the attack, which inaccurately described a spontaneous protest, an issue in the final weeks of the presidential campaign.

That criticism has now expanded to allegations that Broadwell, who got to know Petraeus while writing his biography, was privy to classified information about the Benghazi attack.

What is behind Petraeus’s resignation?

Andrey Fedyashin, Alexey Lyakhov

One of the first things that Barack Obama did after being reelected as the US President was to dismiss CIA’s Director David Petraeus. On November 11, Mr. Petraeus filed in a notice of resignation, and President Obama satisfied his request. The reason for the resignation of the CIA chief was that it has been discovered that he has had an extramarital love affair.

However, Mr. Peraeus’s resignation does not mean the end of “the Petraeus case”. On the opposite, most likely, this is only a beginning of a long story that may cause President Obama lots of headaches.

Congress has already ordered representatives of the President’s administration to report to Congress about what they know concerning this scandalous case on November 13.

This case has raised many eyebrows in the US. First of all, the Congress is suspecting the Obama administration of deliberately delaying General Petraeus’s resignation until the end of the presidential elections. If the scandalous case has become known to the public before the elections, Barack Obama’s chances to be reelected would have become much smaller.

In fact, this is not the first loud scandal that has to do with a director or another high-ranking official of the CIA. But, as a rule, the authorities preferred to hush up these scandals.

Most likely, Mr. Petraeus’s case won’t do much harm to the entire CIA. The CIA is a too influential and too professional an organization to seriously suffer from such scandals. To a large extent, the CIA is independent even from the President.

Besides Mr. Petraeus himself, the man whose reputation may suffer most of all from this case is… President Obama.

Russian political observer Alexander Gusev comments:

“Most likely, President Obama’s administration deliberately did not make this case public before Mr. Obama’s reelection. Otherwise, this would have spoilt Mr. Obama’s reputation, which is something he wanted less of all before the elections. For Americans, family ties are sacred. The fact that under President Obama, the CIS boss was unfaithful to his wife may hardly add points to Mr. Obama’s reputation.”

Usually, in the US, if an investigation against an official of such a high rank is being held, the FBI has to inform the President and his administration about it. However, the FBI says that because no foreigners were involved in the Petraeus scandal, this story presented no threat to the US’s security – and, thus, there was no need to inform the President about it.

The main thing that Congress now wants to know is what President Obama knew about this case – and when he learnt it. If it is found that the President’s administration knew about this case but hid it from Congress before Mr. Obama’s reelection, this may present a threat of impeachment for him.

The Petraeus scandal also presents a serious threat of damage to the reputation of the US administration from another point of view. Before the scandal broke out, the US propaganda was one step from proclaiming General Petraeus a saint. Pro-Obama media sources called him a talented military commander and ascribed to him the authorship of many brilliant victories in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some papers even wrote that allegedly, Mr. Petraeus had very good chances to win the next presidential elections in 2016.

Another Russian political analyst, Andrey Sidorov, says:

“Mr. Petraeus was undoubtedly a talented commander. However, his role shouldn’t be exaggerated. The situations in Iraq or Afghanistan are too complicated to be solved by one person, be he even a man of genius.”

David Petrareus’s ill-wishers say that he, in fact, owes his career to his wife. In 1974, David, at that time a young officer, married Holly, nee Knowlton, a daughter of General William Knowlton, the head of the Military Academy at West Point, where he studied. After that, he made a very rapid military career.

Former colleagues of Gen. Petraeus in disbelief over affair

Colleagues of former CIA Director David Petraeus, who recently resigned due to an affair, are still in shock over the General’s infidelity, according to an article written by the Washington Post on Monday.

“For many officers and army servicemen who served under Gen. Petraeus, the main question was how the General could make such an error in judgment in his private and professional life, having always spoken to them about the importance of self-discipline and honesty, and left the impression that even in the most stressful situations you should always keep your emotions under control.”

“I’m in shock because this story just completely contradicts the Patraeus I have known and worked with for three tours to Iraq,” said one of the General’s close associates who had served with him in the army.

The Washington Post also said that during Gen. Petraeus’ service in the army it was virtually impossible to hide their affair. “For example, in Afghanistan, he couldn’t hide such things from his colleagues. He had a tiny room and slept in a small trailer next to the premises where the other officers lived,” according to the article.

Petraeus himself has claimed that sexual relations with his mistress Paula Broadwell began after he left the army.

According to the Washington Post, Mrs. Broadwell, a journalist, enjoyed many privileges while in Afghanistan with Petraeus. In particular, she had access to facilities where other journalists were not allowed.

"In Iraq, Petraeus insisted that journalists were not permitted in staff quarters," said Colonel Peter Mansoor, who served with Gen. Petraeus during the Iraq military campaign.

As reported, CIA Director D. Petraeus last week resigned, confessing to adultery.

Petraeus’ mistress, Paula Broadwell, was author of the biographical book about the CIA director.

Gen. Petraeus has been married to his wife Holly for 38 years and they have two children together.

He was appointed head of the CIA in September 2011. Before that Gen. Petraeus served as commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, and previously managed the US military operation in Iraq.

FBI: we knew about Petraeus' scandalous affair since summer

The FBI and US Department of Justice were notified about what appeared to be extramarital affairs involving CIA director David Petraeus as early as this summer but didn’t make this information public since concerns over possible security breaches didn’t seem to be justified at that time.

“The investigation was incomplete and initial concerns about possible security breaches, which would demand more immediate action, did not appear to be justified,” the paper cited a source in the US administration as saying.

The New York Times pointed out that FBI agents realized they were looking into a serious matter but didn’t want to expose details of Gen. Petraeus’ private life until it became clear that his actions posed threat to national security.

Second woman involved in Petraeus’s resignation asks her privacy be respected

On Sunday Jill Kelley, the woman whose complains to the FBI several months ago, led to a disclosure of the extramarital affair between David Petraeus, now ex-Director of the CIA, and his biographer, Paula Broadwell, said in a statement on Sunday that she wanted privacy for her family.

While neither Petraeus, the resigned CIA Director, nor Broadwell has commented on the details of their relationship, some information has emerged regarding the second woman involved in the situation.

The 37-year-old Jill Kelley, a long-time friend of the Petraeus family and a Tampa volunteer social liaison with military families at MacDill Air Force Base, has been described as a victim of the situation.

As became known to CBS News, Petraeus told friends he was not romantically involved with Kelley and only saw her when she was with her husband, Scott.

Law enforcement officials said though Kelley has found herself in the centre of a scandal involving a top military official, she was in no trouble. They added the FBI investigation was likely to end with no one being charged with a crime, as it had found no concerns about the national security, only a personal affair.

Identity of second woman emerges in Petraeus' downfall

New details emerged on Sunday about the extramarital affair that abruptly ended the career of CIA chief David Petraeus, including the identity of a second woman whose complaints about harassing emails from the woman with whom he had the relationship, Paula Broadwell, prompted an FBI investigation.

A person familiar with the investigation identified the second woman as Jill Kelley, a long-time friend of the Petraeus family and a Tampa, Florida volunteer social liaison with military families at MacDill Air Force Base.

Kelley went to the FBI after receiving threatening emails that eventually were traced to Broadwell, law enforcement and security officials have said, prompting an investigation that turned up evidence that Petraeus and Broadwell were having an extramarital affair.

Petraeus has made no public comment since he announced his resignation on Friday.

Petraeus affair began through running

The woman at the center of the extramarital affair that led to the resignation of the head of the Central Intelligence Agency is a highly accomplished, extremely competitive person who got to know the high-profile general, in part, by going running with him in Afghanistan.

Paula Broadwell met Gen. David Petraeus six years ago, when she introduced herself after he gave a speech at Harvard's Kennedy School, where Ms. Broadwell was working on a master's degree.

She now lives in Charlotte, NC with her radiologist husband and two children, according to an online biography page associated with her book about Petraeus, "All In: The Education of General David Petraeus," which was taken offline shortly after her name was linked to the scandal.

Ms. Broadwell was scheduled to have a 40th birthday party Saturday night at her brother's house in Washington, D.C. An email sent Friday announced the party had been canceled.

Ms. Broadwell is, like Mr. Petraeus, a West Point graduate, according to the online biography. There, she excelled at track, and later competed in triathlons.

Though both the general and his biographer started their careers in the military, Ms. Broadwell, a North Dakota native, embarked on a solely scholarly career—one in which her main focus of study was the military, and Mr. Petraeus specifically.

Her academic study is what first put her in the orbit of Mr. Petraeus. After introducing herself to Mr. Petraeus in 2006, she described her research and he gave her his card. She later sought his advice for her Ph.D. dissertation.

When Mr. Petraeus assumed the command of the war in Afghanistan in 2010, she decided to turn her dissertation research into a book. He provided her unusual access to his world in Afghanistan, where she made six trips over roughly a year.

"I'm not sure he took me seriously, but I showed up,'' she told Jon Stewart in an interview earlier this year on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show."

As a much-scrutinized military leader, Mr. Petraeus was known to go running with journalists, and he also did so with Ms. Broadwell.

"I thought I'd test him, but he was going to test me - it ended up being a test for both of us since we both ran pretty quickly,'' she told Mr. Stewart. "That was the foundation of our relationship."

In her biography of Mr. Petraeus, Ms. Broadwell describes in detail Mr. Petraeus's courtship of his wife, Hollister "Holly" Knowlton.

"Soon, the two would find themselves commuting to each other's colleges whenever time allowed, sometimes braving fierce New York snowstorms to spend time together," Ms. Broadwell wrote. "Petraeus would sneak in the side door of the superintendent's home aside the Plain, the academy's parade field, to visit Holly when she made the trip back to West Point."

Efforts to reach Ms. Broadwell were unsuccessful. A spokeswoman for her publisher, Penguin, didn't immediately comment.

Ms. Broadwell is now a research associate at Harvard's Center for Public Leadership and she continues to work on her dissertation as a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of War Studies at King's College London. Her dissertation is on innovation in the 101st Airborne Division in Northern Iraq in 2003, which then- Maj. Gen. Petraeus led.

CIA Director Petraeus resignation: 'The higher a person is the more people it affects' - former classmate of Petraeus dishes on gaffes of General’s career

Stepping down, Petraeus admitted to having had an extramarital affair, saying he was guilty of "unacceptable" behavior. Voice of Russia American Edition talked to Michael O’Brien, the author of the America’s Failure in Iraq and a former member of the George W.Bush Administration and also Department of Defense former contractor.

Why is that the extramarital affair would cause the resignation of someone from the CIA. I mean, it seems like OK, it’s morally wrong, but what it has to do with his job?

Well, you know, technically, if he really wanted to get down to it as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, someone could use that to blackmail him. And when you have the highest levels of security clearance, you don’t want to have anything that somebody can blackmail you for to get secrets. They take that really seriously. It’s funny though, we ask that question, I wonder if it was the affair or that they lied about the affair. I’ve had TS/SCI-clearance top secret sensitive compartment of information which is above TS and it’s not so much, we may give you an interview and give you a polygraph and all that. It’s not so much what you’ve done, it’s if you lie about it...

To read the full interview, visit Voice of Russia American Edition

'There's more behind CIA chief Petraeus' resignation than just moral issues'

Stepping down, Petraeus admitted to having had an extramarital affair, saying he was guilty of "unacceptable" behavior. Ex-military intelligence officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Tony Shaffer told Russian TV that there's more behind the resignation than just moral issues.

CIA Chief David Petraeus has announced he will resign from the Central Intelligence Agency.

Petraeus, age 60, released a statement on Friday obtained by CNN confirming that his resignation has already been accepted by US President Barack Obama, who nominated him to replace General Stanley A. McChrystal as the commander of US Forces in Afghanistan in June 2010. A four-star general, Petraeus retired from the Army in August 2011 and was sworn in as new CIA chief one month later.

According to the statement, Petraeus’ stepping down is due to personal reasons, namely an affair he now admits to having outside of his relationship with his wife.

“After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment from engaging in an extramarital affair,” writes Petraeus. “Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours.”

Petraeus says he informed President Obama of his decision on Thursday and writes, “This afternoon, the president graciously accepted my resignation.”

Multiple sources speaking to NBC News suggest that Mike Morrell, the deputy CIA director and a long time CIA officer, will be the likely replacement for Petraeus.

Voice of Russia, Reuters, AFP, Interfax, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, BBC

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