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Petraeus scandal widens

US commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen.

PERTH — The top US commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, is under investigation for alleged inappropriate communication with a woman at the centre of the sex scandal involving former CIA Director David Petraeus, a senior US defence official said today.

The shocking revelation threatens to fell another of the US military’s biggest names and suggests that the scandal involving Petraeus – a retired four-star general who had Allen’s job in Afghanistan before moving to the CIA last year – could expand much further than previously imagined.

The US official said the FBI uncovered between 20,000 and 30,000 pages of communications – mostly emails and spanning from 2010 to 2012 – between Allen and Jill Kelley, who has been identified as a long-time friend of the Petraeus family and a Tampa, Florida, volunteer social liaison with military families at MacDill Air Force Base.

It was Kelley’s complaints about harassing emails from the woman with whom Petraeus had had an affair, Paula Broadwell, that prompted an FBI investigation, ultimately alerting authorities to Petraeus’ involvement with Broadwell. Petraeus resigned from his job on Friday.

It was unclear how Allen knew Kelley, but he was stationed in Tampa as the deputy director of the US military’s Central Command for the three years until he took over in Afghanistan in 2011. Petraeus was head of the Tampa-based Central Command from 2008 to 2010.

Asked whether there was concern about the disclosure of classified information, the official, on condition of anonymity, said: “We are concerned about inappropriate communications. We are not going to speculate as to what is contained in these documents.”

But even the sheer volume of communication alone could raise questions. Allen and Kelley were exchanging around 30 pages of communication per day, on average. Even if the notes were short, such intense interaction might have consumed a lot of Allen’s time.

Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said in a statement given to reporters flying with him to Perth, Australia that he had asked that Allen’s nomination to be Commander of US European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe be delayed “and the president has agreed”. (Reuters)

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