"It's what I don't know that makes me wonder," said one Pentagon staffer. "Given all the reports and stuff like that I'm just shaking my head and going, ‘Ok, if there's more to it and it sounds like there might be, I'm concerned about the [classified] information" that has been inappropriately handled.
Classified information has been found on the home computer of Paula Broadwell, the woman with whom Petraeus has admitted to a having an affair, and her messages to Kelley detailed comings and goings of generals at U.S. Central Command headquarters in Florida.
"Does this go beyond simply bad decisions about personal behavior, does it also go to criminal activity or concern criminal activity," said the staffer, who believes that Broadwell, a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, should be brought up on charges if she mishandled classified information. "You're not allowed to take things home."
Meanwhile, the issue of just what a "social liaison" is and how Kelley worked her way into the inner circle of Centcom brass without being properly vetted by otherwise security-conscious military personnel, baffled the staffer. "For DOD, I would think that they would start talking about those kind of [community outreach] programs" that draw social liaisons into the military community.
"There's nothing written that even covers any of that kind of stuff," said the source, of the need for the military to establish standards and behavioral guidelines for so-called civic leaders that are frequently asked to participate in and organize fundraisers at military bases.
Panetta's ethics review will in some ways be redundant. General and flag officers are already trained to know right from wrong. "The key here isn't that they don't know the rules, they get plenty of training on the rules," said a retired Navy one-star with extensive experience working for senior-most military officers.
Rather, the key is to ensure that top leaders are surrounding themselves not with yes-men, but with people who are empowered and capable of telling senior officers what to do and what not to do. "You have to have people who come in and shut the door and tell you, ‘I know this is innocuous but you have to be careful of the impression here,'" the admiral said. "Senior leaders can slide down a slippery slope where they don't know what they're doing."
Allen will remain commander of ISAF in Kabul until the Senate acts on the nomination for Gen. Joe Dunford, who is assistant commandant of the Marine Corps. If confirmed, he could head to Kabul by early winter to relieve Allen of his command. According to current regulations, after 60 days Allen would either have to be re-nominated for the job in Europe or another job, or his rank would revert to two-stars. At that time, only Panetta or his successor could determine the level at which Allen would retire.