National Security

What the volume of Allen e-mails say

Ward gets a demotion, Asia Foundation: new optimism in Afghanistan, The shallow bench for NATO if Allen’s promotion falters, What is a social liaison, anyway? and more.

The sheer volume of e-mails between Allen and Kelley is what suggests that there was something going on. But as DoD investigators sort through as many as 30,000 pages of e-mails between the two, it's becoming clear that the they're only looking at really a couple of hundred e-mails, and that the number of duplicate e-mails -- in the form of replies, reply alls, "carbon copies" and forwards that dramatically inflate the amount of correspondence between ISAF Commander Gen. John Allen and Tampa socialite Jill Kelley. It is not insignificant that Allen has said there was no wrongdoing -- at this point, it would be hard to lie. And some senior officers inside the Pentagon believe that the investigation over Allen's e-mail traffic is overblown, Situation Report is told, and that the investigation will turn up very little. Allen, from Warrenton, Va., has a reputation for being a southern gentlemen and likely used words like "sweetheart," as we were told and was reported widely in today's news cycle. That said, other news organizations, including Fox, say the correspondence between the two was far racier.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, traveling in Asia, said "no one should leap to any conclusions" about Allen. While it raises questions about whether the "prudent measure" Panetta took in approving the investigation was an overreaction, defense officials have said Panetta was well aware of the implications the investigation could have on Allen's reputation, career, and even the mission in Afghanistan. "He certainly has my continued confidence," Panetta said at a news conference.

With Allen's promotion now in some doubt, who would take over NATO? The bench isn't that deep for a job that requires warrior-diplomatic savvy and gravitas. Gen. Carter Ham, head of Africom, who has long been expected to retire, would be an option, but the White House probably wouldn't put his name forward due to the controversy, mostly from the blogosphere, over Benghazi even if most national security insiders don't think there is anything to it. Marine Gen. John Kelly, already newly installed at Southern Command, is another option. But if the DoD investigation of Allen, which could last at least a couple months, stalls his chances, then the Army would lobby for one of their own -- like Gen. Lloyd Austin, who might already be headed to Central Command, or even Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, who will retire in December after finishing a tour as commander of the Army's subordinate European command. And there are others considered to be strong varsity players but whose stature isn't yet quite in the same tier or so far lack the star power, people like Air Force strategist Gen. Paul Selva, who just arrived at the Air Force's Air Mobility Command.

Noting: so sensitive is Washington about the scandal that even many think tank analysts, typically eager to be quoted in print by name, believe it's ill-advised for them to talk to reporters about any of this -- especially with many of them looking for jobs in Obama's second term.

Buried by the Petraeus-Allen scandal, perhaps intentionally, another four-star got word Tuesday he would be demoted. In a completely unrelated matter, Kip Ward, the former commander of U.S. Africom, will be forced to retire as a three-star in punishment for the lavish lifestyle he led as Africom commander, and he will be forced to pay back the government $82,000. Ward allowed his wife, Joyce to be ferried about in military vehicles driven by military drivers to go shopping and to go to spa treatments, aides were used for personal business, and military aircraft was used for trips that in some cases were more for pleasure than business.

An AP report indicated that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Marty Dempsey had recommended that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta allow Ward, who was a four-star general before the investigation into his spending began, to retire at the four-star level. But in demoting Ward for retirement, Panetta seemed to be signaling that such behavior for a senior military leader is unacceptable. "My impression on Leon Panetta is that he believes very strongly in accountability and that there are consequences for ones' actions," a senior defense official told Situation Report. "In this particular case, I think there needed to be consequences for the actions and misjudgments that took place during [Ward's] tenure as Africom commander."

Welcome to the Wednesday edition of Situation Report. Follow me @glubold. Or hit me anytime at And sign up for Situation Report here: or just send me an e-mail and I'll put you on the list.

There's new optimism in Afghanistan. The Asia Foundation released their latest poll early this morning that shows that 52 percent of Afghans say the country is moving in the right direction, up from 46 percent last year (although polling in some areas had to be replaced and may have skewed the results slightly in favor of those who see things brighter, the AF says). But among those who are optimistic, 41 percent believe it is because of security, and 35 percent believe it is due to reconstruction and rebuilding, and 14 percent believe it is because of the opening of schools for girls. Still, the three biggest problems? Security (28 percent) unemployment (27 percent) and corruption (25 percent). Also: "Survey findings show that Afghans' support for peace and reconciliation remain very high in 2012, as it has been in previous years," the report said.

81 percent agree with the government's national reconciliation and negotiation efforts and 38 percent are strongly in favor.

The National Academy of Sciences will release today an unclassified version of a five-year old NAS report on the vulnerability of the power grid to terrorist attack. The secret report, we're told, found the U.S. to be highly vulnerable to an attack and that power could be cut off to some regions in the U.S. for weeks or months. The point of releasing the report, we were also told, is to rebut skeptics who question the potential impact of such an attack on the power grid - and how such an attack could be worse than a natural disaster. Releasing publicly at 2pm.

When can the F.B.I. read your e-mail? Killer Apps' John Reed is told it's not hard: "If they can say with some confidence that it's a potential crime, they can probably do some preliminary work on their own without too much difficulty," Stewart Baker, an attorney who specializes in telecommunications law at Steptoe and Johnson, told John.

 Small clarification: Most of the press traveling with Panetta to Asia were in fact awake on that second leg when they were first informed there would be an announcement -- which they later learned was about the investigation of Allen. We suggested otherwise.

Colbert, on Broadwell's book: "It appears that the title of chapter 5, Anaconda, may not refer to a ground offensive in Afghanistan. Whole different type of surge."

Letterman: "Well allegedly [Petraeus] had an affair with his biographer, which means from now on, he'll only be having sex with his auto-biographer."

Overheard at the War College: Marine officer: "Hey professor, I gotta new pickup line that'll work on any girl. 'Wanna be my biographer?'"

Who is Jill Kelley and what is a voluntary liaison? There are no definitive answers, but she and her husband are known across Tampa for throwing lavish parties, especially for brass visiting nearby MacDill Air Force Base. Kelley is apparently well known, even among those outside military circles. A local described them to a friend of Situation Report as "Tampa Social Climbers." The pair aren't unlike Washington's Salahis, living large in certain social circles in ways that mask financial troubles. The Kelleys have had their own share of money problems despite a big waterfront home and the Benz that Kelley drives.

Jacey Echart, the military spouse editor of the, tells the NYT: "I have never known there to be groupies around generals," she says. "But just like in every other field of endeavor, there is a certain excitement around people that have great power. And generals, like captains of industry and certain kinds of celebrities, wield a certain kind of power."

The Cable learns that she's that and more: She's also a South Korea honorary consul.

Reality TV


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 And sign up for Situation Report here: 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:

Allen bio:

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