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. http://bit.ly/TEkWWs
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."
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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. http://bit.ly/ZsPwZQ
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. http://bit.ly/kJATA
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. http://bit.ly/RX83sQ
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 military.com, 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. http://bit.ly/JyqV
- CBS: Broadwell warned Allen of "seductress." http://cbsn.ws/TINKiz
- Small Wars: Power and the fallen man. http://bit.ly/W5ebDT
- Danger Room: The most uncomfortable briefing ever. http://bit.ly/XClbbL
- AP: Florida socialite at center of sex scandal. http://yhoo.it/ZDrXwu
- Al-Monitor's Back Channel: Crocker defends Allen, Petraeus. http://bit.ly/TFK9SQ