* Defense secretary asked Obama to delay general's
* Alleged inappropriate communication involved
* Investigation involves woman at center of Petraeus scandal
By David Alexander and Phil Stewart
WASHINGTON, Nov 13 The scandal involving former
CIA Director David Petraeus widened on Tuesday as U.S. defense
officials said they were looking into "flirtatious" e-mails
between General John Allen, the top U.S. commander in
Afghanistan, and a woman at the center of the affair.
Defense Department officials said they were sifting through
30,000 pages of email and other communications between Allen and
Jill Kelley, a Florida socialite whose complaints about
harassing messages led to the discovery of Petraeus' affair with
The revelation threatens to fell another of the U.S.
military's biggest names after Petraeus' surprise resignation
last week. It also complicates President Barack Obama's efforts
to wind down the war in Afghanistan and reorganize his national
security team following his re-election.
A senior defense official told Reuters the emails between
Allen and Kelley were seen as potentially inappropriate because
they were "flirtatious" in nature, not because they dealt with
sensitive information. Allen has denied that the two had a
sexual relationship, officials said on condition of anonymity.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Allen, a four-star
Marine Corps general, would stay in his job for the time being,
and the White House said Obama still had faith in Allen's
ability to command U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
But asked how Obama saw the unfolding scandal at a time when
his priorities include impending "fiscal cliff," Press Secretary
Jay Carney said: "I certainly wouldn't call it welcome."
Obama suspended plans to transfer Allen to Europe, where he
was to be the top commander of U.S. and allied forces in the
Both Allen and the official due to replace him in
Afghanistan, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, must be
confirmed by the U.S. Senate before they can take their new
posts in February.
Top lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services Committee said
they would go ahead with a confirmation hearing for Dunford on
Thursday. Allen's appearance was canceled.
Allen had just submitted recommendations on what role the
United States should play in Afghanistan after most American
combat troops withdraw by the end of 2014.
The investigations raised questions about how top U.S.
officials in sensitive national security posts allowed
themselves to become so personally involved with the women.
Kelley, 37, is a fixture in military circles in Tampa,
Florida, where she was a volunteer social liaison at MacDill Air
Force Base, home to the U.S. Central Command. She and her
husband, surgeon Scott Kelley, became friends with Petraeus when
he was stationed there from 2008 to 2010.
Her complaints about harassing emails from the woman with
whom Petraeus had an affair, Paula Broadwell, prompted an FBI
investigation that ultimately disclosed Petraeus' involvement
People close to Petraeus say he had no romantic relationship
with Kelley, but Broadwell may have seen her as a rival.
Both Petraeus and Allen had recently intervened in a bitter
custody battle on behalf of Kelley's twin sister. The men wrote
letters in September to the District of Columbia Superior Court
in support of the twin sister, Natalie Khawam, as she sought
more visitation rights with her son, court papers showed.
Officials suggested they were concerned by the volume of
communications between Allen and Kelley over the past two years,
rather than the possibility that the two shared classified
material or engaged in an extramarital affair.
"We are concerned about inappropriate communications. We are
not going to speculate as to what is contained in these
documents," one official said.
Details on content of the emails were not revealed.
The FBI referred the case to the Pentagon on Sunday and
Panetta directed the Defense Department's Inspector General to
handle the investigation. Panetta also informed lawmakers who
oversee military affairs.
FBI RAID, SHIRTLESS PHOTOS
FBI agents searched the Charlotte, North Carolina, house of
Broadwell late Monday in a sign that the case involving Petraeus
was not fully closed.
Agents entered the house carrying boxes at around 9 p.m.
(0200 GMT Tuesday) and emerged four hours later, carrying away
what appeared to be two computers and about 10 boxes.
Broadwell's family was not at home at the time.
U.S. officials had said in recent days that their
investigation was largely complete and that prosecutors had
determined it was unlikely they would bring charges in that
case, which started when Kelley contacted an FBI agent in Tampa
about harassing emails from an anonymous source.
That FBI agent, who has not been identified, came under
scrutiny himself after it was discovered he had sent shirtless
photographs of himself to Kelley "long before" this
investigation, a law enforcement official told Reuters.
The FBI agent, who alerted an FBI cyber squad to the
Broadwell case, apparently became frustrated at the pace of the
investigation and complained to a member of Congress about it,
the official said.
The emails between the two women were of a "childish",
jealous nature and showed some one-upmanship of trying to come
across as being more important to Petraeus, the official said.
Lawmakers and others have questioned whether Broadwell, who
co-wrote a biography of the decorated former general, obtained
classified information from him or another source.
Panetta had earlier said Petraeus did the right thing by
stepping down, given the security concerns, but he was saddened
by the end of the retired general's distinguished career.