Now, top US Gen in Afghanistan caught in Petraeus scandal

GEN JOHN ALLEN

ELISABETH BUMILLER

GEN JOHN ALLEN, the top American and NATO commander in Afghanistan, is under investigation for what a senior defence official Tuesday said was "inappropriate communication'' with Jill Kelley, the woman in Florida who was seen as a rival for David H Petraeus's attentions by Paula Broadwell, the woman who had an extra-marital affair with Petraeus.

In a statement released to reporters on his plane en route to Australia, Defence Secretary Leon E Panetta said that the FBI had Sunday referred "a matter involving" Allen to the Pentagon.

Panetta turned the matter over to the Pentagon's inspector general to conduct an investigation into what the defence official said were 20,000 to 30,000 pages of documents, many of them emails between Allen and Kelley, who is married with children and lives in Tampa.

Asked if the FBI had determined that there was criminal action involved, the defence official replied, "That is for the FBI to discuss." The official, who briefed reporters on

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Panetta's plane, said that "there is the distinct possibility'' that the e-mails were connected to an ongoing FBI investigation into Petraeus and Broadwell.

The defense official said that Allen, who is also married, told Pentagon officials he had done nothing wrong. Neither he nor Kelley could be reached for comment. Panetta's statement praised Allen for his leadership in Afghanistan and said that "he is entitled to due process in this matter."

But the Pentagon inspector general's investigation opens up what could be a widening scandal into two of the most prominent generals of their generation - Petraeus, who was the top commander in Iraq and Afghanistan before he retired from the military and became CIA director, only to resign Friday because of the affair, and Allen, who also served in Iraq and now commands 68,000 American troops in Afghanistan.

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