First Published: 2012-11-13

 

New revelations emerge in US spy chief scandal

 

General Allen, top US commander in Afghanistan, is under probe for having been linked to woman involved in unfolding scandal, indicating wider probe.

 

Middle East Online

By Olivia Hampton - WASHINGTON

Domino effect?

US lawmakers on Tuesday will begin probing the shock resignation of David Petraeus, as new revelations about the sex scandal that brought down the CIA director ripple through Washington.

Defense Secretary and former CIA chief Leon Panetta said Petraeus had been right to resign as a matter of "personal integrity" over an extramarital affair, as a torrent of leaked accusations shed new light on the scandal.

Petraeus resigned on Friday, just three days after President Barack Obama was re-elected following a heated campaign in which the CIA faced questions about its handling of a deadly attack on a US consulate in Libya.

The retired four-star general had been due to testify to Congress this week on the September 11 assault in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including US ambassador Chris Stevens and two former Navy SEALs working for the CIA.

Panetta, Petraeus's predecessor and the most senior administration figure to yet speak out on the resignation, told reporters on a flight to Australia that Petraeus had taken "the right step."

"I think it's important when you're director of the CIA, with all of the challenges that face you in that position, that personal integrity comes first and foremost," he said.

But a defense official later said that General John Allen, the top US commander in Afghanistan, had been linked to a woman involved in the unfolding scandal and was under investigation, indicating a wider probe.

Petraeus took command of the CIA 14 months ago, retiring from the military after a glittering career that saw him lead the 101st Airborne, the US war in Iraq, its CentCom regional command and international forces in Afghanistan.

But two months after hanging up his uniform, he started an affair with Paula Broadwell, a former army officer 20 years his junior who travelled with him in Afghanistan and has written a glowing biography of him.

Retired US Army colonel Steve Boylan -- a close Petraeus associate -- said Petraeus "regrets the poor judgement and the lack of discipline more than we can probably put into words ... His words to me were 'I screwed up.'"

Boylan, who served as Petraeus's spokesman when the pair were in Iraq, said the 60-year-old retired general had warned his wife of 38 years, Holly, about his affair before the news broke and was trying to make amends.

Boylan said the affair ended about four months ago.

The investigation into the affair began when Jill Kelley, a Tampa socialite with close military ties who was a friend of the Petraeuses, complained to an FBI agent acquaintance that she had received threatening anonymous emails.

According to widely-reported leaks from US officials, FBI agents traced the mails back to Broadwell and, on scrutinizing her online records, found a series of sexually explicit exchanges with Petraeus confirming their affair.

The pair was interviewed separately by investigators in late October and early November but, despite reports Broadwell was found to be in possession of some classified material, no criminal charges were brought.

The Pentagon official on Tuesday told reporters travelling with Panetta that the FBI had uncovered a trove of 30,000 pages of correspondence, including "inappropriate" emails between Allen and Kelley.

Panetta later issued a statement confirming that he had referred Allen to the Pentagon's inspector general and had asked the Senate to put Allen's pending nomination to be the next NATO supreme allied commander on hold.

Nearly a dozen FBI agents on Monday searched Broadwell's North Carolina home, removing bags, boxes and pictures, local media reported. She has not been seen at her home since Petraeus resigned over the affair.

Broadwell may have revealed classified information last month by claiming at a public forum that the CIA was detaining Libyan militia members and that the practice may have triggered the September 11 attack on the US consulate.

The spy agency has strongly denied holding prisoners in Benghazi.

Adding political intrigue to the scandal -- according to a report in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal -- the original FBI agent who was contacted by Kelley brought the matter to the attention of Republican lawmakers.

They in turn contacted the FBI, and Petraeus resigned late last week.

The Journal said supervisors had pulled the whistleblower FBI agent off the case after he became "obsessed" with the matter and was caught sending Kelley, 37, shirtless photos of himself.

US lawmakers already plan hearings into the Benghazi debacle and claims the four US victims were denied sufficient protection because of confusion between CIA and State Department leaders over security responsibility.

Now they also want to know why the FBI and Justice Department did not inform them or the White House about Petraeus's affair until last week, after the spy chief's sudden departure and public admission of guilt.

 

Horse-trading begins as Tunisia awaits formation of new government

Jihadists flock to fight on ‘unprecedented scale’

UK court says Libyan Abdul-Hakim Belhaj can sue over rendition

Syria accuses Turkey of ‘flagrant violation of sovereignty’

Global campaign to end female genital mutilation kicks off

US to examine troops exposed to chemicals in Iraq

African Union hits back at Somalia rape claims

New scare in Turkey as ‘suspect packages’ found

‘Insults against Netanyahu’ cause embarrassment to US

Kuwait online activist gets four years in jail for insulting judges

Heavy fighting in South Sudan sparks fears of humanitarian catastrophe

Sweden officially recognises State of Palestine

Egypt jails retired general for damaging national security

Israel closes al-Aqsa mosque to worshipers in rare move

Gaza civil servants receive delayed salaries

After US criticism, Israel vows no concessions to Palestinians

Libya internationally recognised PM opens doors of dialogue with rivals

Huthi rebels seize stronghold of Muslim Brotherhood in central Yemen

Will Nidaa Tounes shun Islamists in Tunisia government formation?

Egypt starts work on buffer zone along border with Gaza

Turkey Sultan unveils new palace: Another break with symbols of secular state

Heavy toll as ‘Islamic State’ fights for control of Syria oil field

Iran President suffers fresh setback with rejection of Science Minister

Nuclear deal or no deal: ‘Red lines’ lay bare internal divisions in Iran

Heavy security in Mogadishu as UN chief meets Somalia president

Fighters from Free Syrian Army leave Turkey to join Kobane battle

Israel denies banning Palestinians sharing buses

Kurd fighters leave northern Iraq base for Syria deployment

Jordan requests UN emergency meeting over Israel settler expansion

Jerusalem Mayor visits Al-Aqsa mosque prompting anger

Tunisia reinforces commitment to democracy with ‘transparent’ elections

Turkey ‘decides’ for Kobane future: No Kurds, no Assad... Only Free Syrian Army!

Bahrain suspends Al-Wefaq weeks before parliamentary elections

Huge game changer in Tunisia: ‘In-credible’ failure of Islamist Ennahda Party

Libya PM in Khartoum for talks with Bashir

PKK hijack truck seizing explosive substance

Saudi lawyers get jail time for offensive tweets

Ennahda concedes defeat in Tunisia parliamentary elections

Syria rebels launch assault on regime-held city of Idlib

Iraq peshmerga wait for Turkey stance to depart for Syria

Sisi enacts military trials decree to cover ‘existential threat’

US calls for online war against ‘Islamic State’

Donors pledge $8 billion for Horn of Africa

Acid attacks in Iran: Deputy of Judiciary Chief to lead investigation

Lebanon army enters Islamist stronghold in Tripoli