US commander cleared in Petraeus case

2013-01-23 19:46
US General John Allen. (Picture: AP)

US General John Allen. (Picture: AP)

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Washington - A Pentagon investigation has cleared General John Allen, the top US commander in Afghanistan, of professional misconduct in exchanging e-mails with a civilian woman linked to the sex scandal that led retired General David Petraeus to resign as CIA director.

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said on Tuesday that Defence Secretary Leon Panetta was informed of the conclusion by the Pentagon's inspector general.

"The secretary was pleased to learn that allegations of professional misconduct were not substantiated by the investigation," Little said, adding that Panetta has "complete confidence in the continued leadership" of Allen.

The matter had been referred to the Pentagon in November by the FBI during the course of its investigation of e-mails between Petraeus and his biographer-turned-paramour, Paula Broadwell. The FBI turned up thousands of e-mails between Allen and Jill Kelley, who was said to have received threatening e-mails from Broadwell.

At the time, officials said 20 000 to 30 000 pages of e-mails and other documents from Allen's communications with Kelley between 2010 and 2012 were in question. None of the e-mails have been made public.

Shortly after being contacted by the FBI, Panetta referred the matter to the Pentagon's inspector general, while expressing confidence in Allen and deciding that he would remain in Kabul as commander of all allied forces in Afghanistan.

At the same time, Allen's nomination to be the next US commander of Nato forces in Europe was put on hold.

The officials said on Tuesday the White House had not decided whether to go forward with the nomination.

Major David Nevers, a spokesperson for Allen, said he had no immediate comment on reports of his being exonerated.

Allen's successor in Kabul, Marine General Joseph Dunford, has been confirmed by the Senate and is scheduled to take over on 10 February.

Allen had maintained he did nothing wrong in the Kelley communications, but he has not spoken publicly about the specifics of his e-mail exchanges with her. She served as a sort of social ambassador for US Central Command in Tampa, Florida.

Petraeus is a former Central Command commander, and Allen is a former deputy commander there.

Shortly after he referred the e-mails to the inspector general, Panetta asked the Joint Chiefs of Staff to review ethics training and to brainstorm on ways to steer officers away from trouble.

The move was a reflection of the depth of concern triggered by a series of misconduct cases in a military that prides itself on integrity and honour.

General Martin Dempsey, chairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has not released the results of his review but has said he found that ethics training for senior leaders, while adequate, should begin earlier in an officer's career and be reinforced more frequently.

Meanwhile, Kelley has spoken out on the loss of privacy that she says made her a prisoner in her own home.

In an op-ed piece published in The Washington Post on Wednesday, Kelley and her husband, Scott Kelley, recounted how their lives were upended after Petraeus resigned.

The Kelleys say their story is a cautionary tale of what can happen when the "careless handling" of information can "endanger citizens' privacy”.

- AP

Read more on:    cia  |  fbi  |  nato  |  leon panetta  |  john allen  |  david petraeus  |  martin dempsey  |  us

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