National Security

More girl trouble: sex scandal expands to include ISAF commander Allen

Allen’s nomination on hold, WaPo: Kerry considered for SecDef job, and more.

The Petraeus sex scandal has expanded to include ISAF Commander Allen. In another jolt to the unfolding story, the Pentagon said it was investigating one of its own, Gen. John Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan, after FBI investigators stumbled on tens of thousands of pages of "potentially inappropriate" e-mails between Allen and Jill Kelley, the Tampa socialite whose connection to Gen. David Petraeus contributed to his resignation from the CIA on Friday. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta put Allen's nomination on hold to become the storied Supreme Allied Commander of Europe, a job first held by Dwight Eisenhower, to allow the investigation to move forward.

Allen, who is in Washington to prepare for what was to be his nomination hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, will remain commander of ISAF. But now the hearing will go forward with just the man nominated to succeed him, Gen. Joseph Dunford, and Panetta has asked the Senate to act on his nomination "promptly." An AP report quotes a defense official: "Gen. Allen disputes that he has engaged in any wrongdoing in this matter." And while Pentagon officials clearly believed there was enough there to warrant an investigation, Panetta stressed that Allen, who is married, "is entitled to due process in this matter."

"[Allen's] 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 in a statement read to reporters on his plane, as the secretary headed to Asia.

It was an amazing new wrinkle in a story that has unfolded quickly and has consumed Washington and the national security world as one general seen as having unimpeachable integrity -- and potentially now two -- are felled by inappropriate conduct with other women. And it threatened to dominate news cycles for the days to come, even as President Obama planned his own trip to Asia and negotiations between the White House and Congress over defense spending had begun here at home.

The story about Allen first broke aboard Panetta's plane on its way to Australia. The FBI had informed the Pentagon of the communications between Allen and Kelley on Sunday evening, according to reporters traveling with the secretary. It is unclear to what degree the e-mails or whatever relationship there is between Allen and Kelley related to the connection between Petraeus and Kelley, which friends of Petraeus have told Situation Report was not a sexual relationship. Kelley is the woman who allegedly received threatening e-mails from Petraeus biographer Paula Broadwell, the woman with whom Petraeus was having an extramarital affair that precipitated his resignation from the CIA on Friday. Defense officials would not say if Allen had divulged classified information in the e-mails or if Allen had used his work e-mail for any of the correspondence between him and Kelley. NBC reported that Allen was first informed of the investigation by Gen. Marty Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Even if the investigation finds Allen did nothing wrong, it throws a crowbar into Obama's national security lineup and is sending the Pentagon's GOMOs (the General Officer Management Offices) into a tailspin. 

An Allen friend tells Situation Report: "I would be more surprised than anyone if anything untoward came out of this investigation." 

Welcome to the Tuesday edition of Situation Report, where the bleary eyes definitely widened when we picked up our phone early this morning. Follow me @glubold. Or hit me anytime at gordon.lubold@foreignpolicy.com. And sign up for Situation Report here: http://bit.ly/NCN9uN or just send me an e-mail and I'll put you on the list.

Reporters were asleep after Panetta had given the usual pre-trip brief in flight, from Honolulu to Perth, in which he was asked about Asia rebalance, sequester, and the Petraeus matter. Hours later, assistant press secretary Carl Woog and Panetta's chief of staff, Jeremy Bash, woke them up, told them to get ready, and that press secretary George Little had an important statement to read. "Everyone hurriedly grabbed their tape recorders, but they wouldn't tell us what it was about. The press corps was stunned by the news about General Allen," one told Situation Report.

Reporters on a plane: WaPo's Whitlock, NYT's Bumiller, Reuters' Stewart, AP's Burns, Bloomberg's Ratnam, VOA's Ramirez, AFP's Loeb and De Luce, Stars and Stripes' Hlad. 

Drinking from the fire hose: Panetta's new top military aide, Lt. Gen. Tom Waldhauser, a Marine, is on his first solo trip with Panetta.

Before Allen became ISAF commander, he kept a low profile as deputy commander of U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., as he quietly developed war plans for Iran. Whatever relationship there is between him and Kelley would likely have begun during his three years in Tampa, between 2008 and 2011. Allen, a Naval Academy graduate, was seen as an up-and-comer as a one-star in Iraq's Anbar province, where he was instrumental in cultivating Sunni sheiks and facilitating the Anbar Awakening beginning in 2006.

Politically astute, smart, and extremely careful with his image, Allen has always been seen as a cerebral commander who had quietly managed his own rise to the top. In August, when we sat with him for an interview, he seemed extremely tired, and aides pointed out that he had been in the job in Afghanistan for 14 months -- but had maintained an exhausting schedule at Central Command for three years before that. The job in Europe for which he was nominated, was seen as a reward.

A friend of Situation Report texts: "But does any of this mean that these senior leaders aren't doing their jobs? That their policies are wrong? That they are not still the best at what they do?"

FP's interview with Allen in August: http://bit.ly/OWQ1Hv

Allen bio: http://1.usa.gov/PRiEHi

The Washington Post reports that John Kerry is being considered for the Sec-Def job. Panetta, who is expected to step down as early as this winter or as late as this spring, may be replaced by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) who had been thought to want Secretary of State but who may get bumped by someone closer to the White House - Tom Donilon, the current national security adviser or, more likely, as the paper reports, Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Administration officials described Kerry to the WaPo as a "war hero" whose qualifications for the defense job "included not only his naval service in Vietnam but also his knowledge of the budget and experience in the diplomacy that has increasingly become part of the defense portfolio."

The Democrats' retention of the Senate, with the election's net gain of two seats, gives the Democrats the cushion they need to bring Kerry across the river, the WaPo points out.

WaPo: Mike Vickers, now undersecretary of defense for intelligence, has also been mentioned as a possible successor to Petraeus at CIA.

The Fallout

The Rest of the World

 

National Security

New scrutiny on the F.B.I. investigation of Petraeus

Paula Broadwell’s singular focus; The biographer’s athletic reputation, Mansoor: Petraeus will rise again, and more.

On Petraeus, new scrutiny on the F.B.I. investigation. As the story about the abrupt resignation of David Petraeus from the CIA unfolded over the weekend, members of Congress grew angry they had not been informed there was an investigation into his extramarital affair because of potential national security implications. Petraeus' affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, came to light after Broadwell allegedly sent threatening e-mails to another woman, Jill Kelley, seemingly out of jealousy. Kelley, a volunteer for social events at MacDill Air Force Base, and a Petraeus family friend, began receiving the e-mails in May from Broadwell. As they grew increasingly threatening, Kelley reportedly told a friend, an FBI agent, which triggered the investigation. But Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who heads the Intelligence Committee, said on Sunday she should have been informed. "I think we should have been told," she said on Fox News.

But as the NYT reports this morning, the bureau's history "would make the privacy question especially significant," given the improper investigations of the sex lives of public figures directed by J. Edgar Hoover's F.B.I. As a result, the agency was more circumspect. "There are a lot of sensitivities in a case like this," a senior law enforcement official told the Times. "There were hints of possible intelligence and security issues, but they were unproven. You constantly ask yourself, ‘What are the notification requirements? What are the privacy issues?'"

Why a link between Petraeus leaving and Benghazi is unlikely: Although the timing of his departure remains a subject of curiosity for a reasonable person, removing him from the equation does nothing to help the Obama administration in the scrutiny over the Benghazi situation -- he can and may still be subpoenaed by the committees with oversight. And although Feinstein has been critical of the administration's handling of the scandal, she said on Fox yesterday there is "absolutely not" a connection between his resignation and Benghazi.

Welcome to the day after Veteran's Day edition of Situation Report, where we see some irony in the fact that everyone in the national security sphere instinctively knew who the CIA director would be having a secret affair with when news of the affair first popped: her effusive praise for the man during her book tour was over the top, even for a biographer touting her subject. Follow me @glubold. Or hit me anytime at gordon.lubold@foreignpolicy.com. And sign up for Situation Report here: http://bit.ly/NCN9uN or just send me an e-mail and I'll put you on the list.

But as Washington consumed the salacious details of the unfolding story, questions remain over why Petraeus resigned. It's still not clear why the disclosure of the extramarital affair necessarily resulted in Petraeus -- a Republican darling in an administration now needing to strike a more bipartisan tone -- having to resign. There are at least two threads of thought on the issue. One is that Obama accepted Petraeus' resignation unwillingly but recognized that Petraeus' emphasis on personal integrity meant that he could not lead the CIA any longer. Another is that some administration officials, who never quite trusted Petraeus in the first place and didn't like his instincts on the use of drones and other policy matters, were looking for an excuse to get rid of him.

 The Petraeus house on a cul-de-sac in North Arlington has been quiet, we're told. But Pete Mansoor, a retired colonel who was part of Petraeus' inner circle in Iraq in 2007-08 and who has exchanged e-mails with Petraeus since the news broke, said he "knows for a fact that he will try to repair his relationship with Holly and his kids." Mansoor said: "He's remorseful." Petraeus has long been thought to be interested in leading Princeton, from which he graduated... "I don't think we've seen the last of General Petraeus," Mansoor said. "He will eventually land on his feet."

Meanwhile, Broadwell has been cast as the hyper-ambitious villain in the tawdry story, a woman whose singular focus on the prize and, to people around Petraeus, her dishonesty, should have rung more warning bells but didn't. After meeting Petraeus, Broadwell -- bright, accomplished and attractive -- sought his help as she wrote her dissertation. But as she gained more access to the general known as "P4," her PhD project turned into a book deal that reportedly gave her an advance in the mid-six figures. "And when she turned her supposed dissertation to a trade book that would make her a lot of money, it didn't sit well with me, frankly," Mansoor told Situation Report. "I should have said something to General Petraeus but I didn't," he said, figuring Petraeus was "savvy enough" to figure it out for himself.

Petraeus' inner circle at the time included Mansoor, Steve Boylan, his public affairs officer, and Everett Spain. They routinely advised Petraeus on a number of things, and each had the kind of access to tell truth to power. Speaking generally, Mansoor said of advising Petraeus: "Any one of us could have said, hey, this isn't going to look good, general, you may want to back off here."

Broadwell was the type of woman who called meetings and then abruptly left them when "the general" called. Broadwell's reputation as an over-achiever who would perhaps stop at nothing to get what she wanted was clear. One professional acquaintance of Broadwell's told Situation Report that "her aggression and ambition is so front-and-center that it's off-putting," and told a story in which Broadwell requested a meeting at one point several years ago but then in the middle of the meeting got a phone call. She abruptly ended the meeting. "Oh, it's the general, we're going for a run," she said. "It was drop everything, I gotta go, it was weird from the very beginning," the individual told Situation Report. Broadwell's ambition and narcissism was disconcerting: "Paula didn't strike me as someone who was going to slit your throat in the middle of the night, but maybe someone who would be capable of outing someone," the individual told Situation Report.

The endurance community doesn't think Broadwell is equal to some of her claims about her physical feats. Over the weekend, many weighed in, suggesting that while Broadwell is clearly a strong athlete, she has embellished her reputation. Broadwell's relationship with Petraeus grew in part because of her reported ability to keep up with his fast running pace and her love of physical fitness.

"The race results simply are not there. She is a good athlete, she is not the athlete she reports herself to be," wrote GoJoMo in the Slowtwitch triathalon forum. http://bitly.com/XxHpvB

Still intriguing: The letter to the NYT Sunday magazine's Ethicist columnist, which has been making the rounds on the Internet since Saturday when it was published online, has a creepy similarity to the Petraeus scandal. But a Times editor Tweeted over the weekend that it is not about Petraeus.

The Tweet: This ?@theethicist column ?http://nyti.ms/Scgf8j  (2nd Q) is NOT about the Petraeus affair, based on our factchecking. Strange, I know.

The letter: "My wife is having an affair with a government executive. His role is to manage a project whose progress is seen worldwide as a demonstration of American leadership. (This might seem hyperbolic, but it is not an exaggeration.) I have met with him on several occasions, and he has been gracious. (I doubt if he is aware of my knowledge.) I have watched the affair intensify over the last year, and I have also benefited from his generosity. He is engaged in work that I am passionate about and is absolutely the right person for the job. I strongly feel that exposing the affair will create a major distraction that would adversely impact the success of an important effort. My issue: Should I acknowledge this affair and finally force closure? Should I suffer in silence for the next year or two for a project I feel must succeed? Should I be "true to my heart" and walk away from the entire miserable situation and put the episode behind me? NAME WITHHELD."

The Ethicists's advice? Don't expose the relationship. "...The fact that you're willing to accept your wife's infidelity for some greater political good is beyond honorable. In fact, it's so over-the-top honorable that I'm not sure I believe your motives are real. Part of me wonders why you're even posing this question, particularly in a column that is printed in The New York Times..."  http://nyti.ms/Scgf8j

 

The Fallout

Twelve Years and Counting

Noting