President Barack Obama has “faith" in Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, the White House spokesman said Tuesday, after it was disclosed that the general was under investigation for what the Pentagon called “inappropriate communication" with the woman whose complaint to the FBI set off the scandal involving David Petraeus’ extramarital affair.
“The president thinks very highly of Gen. Allen," the spokesman, Jay Carney, said at a White House news briefing. “He has faith in Gen. Allen," and believes that he has done “an excellent job" as commander in Afghanistan, Carney added.
Allen’s recent nomination to become supreme allied commander in Europe, Carney said, has been delayed at the request of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta pending the investigation’s outcome.
Panetta and other officials disclosed overnight the investigation into Allen’s emails with Jill Kelley, the woman in Tampa, Fla., who was seen by Paula Broadwell, Petraeus’ lover, as a rival for his attentions.
Petraeus’ affair led to his resignation as head of the CIA on Friday, and the FBI’s investigations into emails in the matter apparently led in turn to Allen’s correspondence.
In a statement released to reporters on his plane en route to Australia early Tuesday, Panetta said the FBI on Sunday had 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 a defense official said were thousands of pages of documents, many of them emails between Allen and Kelley.
A senior law enforcement official in Washington said Tuesday that FBI investigators, looking into Kelley’s complaint about anonymous emails she had received, examined all of her emails as a routine step.
“When you get involved in a cybercase like this, you have to look at everything," the official said, suggesting that Kelley may not have considered that possibility when she filed the complaint. “The real question is why someone decided to open this can of worms."
The official would not describe the content of the emails between Allen and Kelley or say specifically why FBI officials had decided to pass them on to the Defense Department.
“Generally, the nature of the emails warranted providing them to DOD," he said.
Under military law, adultery can be a crime.
The defense official on Panetta’s plane said that Allen, who is also married, told Pentagon officials that he had done nothing wrong.