* Panetta warns against jumping to conclusions in case
* General Allen directs staff to cooperate with
* Top US military officer says hopes Allen gets Europe job
By Phil Stewart
BANGKOK, Nov 15 U.S. Defense Secretary Leon
Panetta said on Thursday he knew of no other military officials
beyond the top commander in Afghanistan drawn into the
investigation surrounding former CIA Director and retired
four-star general David Petraeus.
Panetta, on a visit to Thailand, acknowledged that further
revelations were possible in the case. But his comments
suggested that, at least for now, questions about email traffic
with a Florida socialite had ensnared no other officers.
"I am not aware of any others that could be involved in this
issue at the present time," Panetta told reporters.
"Obviously as this matter continues to be investigated, both
on Capitol Hill and by the inspector general, I'm sure that
we'll have to wait and see what additional factors are brought
to our attention."
Marine General John Allen, who remains in his post as
commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, is being
investigated for potentially inappropriate communications with a
woman at the center of the Petraeus case, Jill Kelley, a Florida
Kelley may have been seen as a rival by Petraeus'
biographer, Paula Broadwell, who sent Kelley anonymous,
harassing emails which touched off an investigation that
uncovered evidence of an affair between Petraeus and Broadwell.
It also led investigators to examine her emails to Allen.
Allen and Kelley communicated often enough over the past two
years to produce 20,000 to 30,000 pages of email and other
messages, which were turned over to Defense Department
investigators on Sunday.
A senior defense official has told Reuters the messages
with Kelley were seen as inappropriate because they were
"flirtatious" in nature, not because they dealt with sensitive
Asked whether the emails were sexually explicit, Panetta
declined comment, saying: "What I don't want to do is to try to
characterize those communications."
"Because I think I don't want to do anything that would
impact on their ability to conduct an objective review of what
was contained in those emails," he said.
In a statement late Wednesday issued by the Marine Corps'
chief defense counsel, Allen pledged to resolve the questions
surrounding his email communications with Kelley, who is also at
the center of the Petraeus case.
"To the extent there are questions about certain
communications by General Allen, he shares in the desire to
resolve those questions as completely and quickly as possible,"
Colonel John G. Baker said.
PROMINENT PRESENCE IN MILITARY CIRCLES
Kelley, a 37-year-old wife and mother, is described as a
prominent presence in military circles in Tampa. She had come to
know both Petraeus and Allen as a volunteer setting up social
events at MacDill Air Force Base outside Tampa, headquarters of
U.S. Central Command.
Defense officials have said Allen did not have a romantic
relationship with Kelley. But the relationship was evidently
close enough that both men intervened in a child custody battle
involving Kelley's twin sister, Natalie Khawam.
"I have tremendous confidence in General Allen, certainly
his ability, his leadership --- and I don't think anybody ought
to jump to any conclusions as to where any of this will lead,"
General Martin Dempsey, the top U.S. military officer, also
expressed confidence in Allen's leadership and was quoted
Thursday in a Defense Department news article as saying he hoped
the investigation would not derail Allen's nomination to the
military's senior post in Europe.
His nomination was suspended to allow for the investigation
"We have John Allen scheduled to become the (European
Command) commander, and I wouldn't want him to miss that
opportunity unless there is reason for that to happen," Dempsey
told a reporter with the Pentagon's American Forces Press
"I don't see that at this point, but I see this
investigation and how long it could take affecting that."
Dempsey said he asked Allen whether he could carry on
despite "this additional stress in his life."
"He assured me that he was ready, willing and able to
continue in command, and I absolutely have confidence in his
ability to do that," Dempsey was quoted saying.