The tricky nature of investigating Gen. Allen's emails
November 14th, 2012
03:48 PM ET

The tricky nature of investigating Gen. Allen's emails

By Barbara Starr

A U.S. official familiar with the content of the e-mails Gen. John Allen sent to Jill Kelley described them as "embarrassing" and warranting the investigation that has been launched.

"They are embarrassing. If they got out, John Allen would be very embarrassed by them," according to the official, who emphasized that there is no evidence of "physical contact between the two."

The official noted that the e-mails that are under investigation - which have been called "potentially inappropriate" - are from Allen. It is Allen's e-mails that are under investigation, and the official did not know the content of any of Kelley's e-mails to Allen.

"The e-mails are concerning enough to warrant an investigation," the official said.

Related: General John Allen: A Marine of distinction

A second U.S. official, who has had the e-mails described to him, characterized the content as "sexy," but emphasized he could not say whether they "crossed the line."

They "are not the type of e-mails you would want your wife to read," the second official explained.

But a senior official close to Allen told CNN's Nick Paton Walsh Tuesday that there was nothing pointing or referring to sex or an affair or anything of a romantic nature. Allen may have said, informally, "thanks sweetheart" in an e-mail, the official close to Allen insisted.

"Anyone who knows him knows his style - he has a habit of replying to every single e-mail (he is sent). Kelley would e-mail his business and personal accounts," that official said.

It will be up to the Defense Department’s inspector general to decide specifically if the content of the e-mails is so inappropriate that they would be considered conduct unbecoming an officer, according to a third source, a senior U.S. official. This official pointed out this may be a very difficult matter to decide because everyone has a personal definition of what is "affectionate, admiration, all the way to what some might define as sexting."

Filed under: Gen. John Allen • ISAF • Military
soundoff (342 Responses)
  1. sahabul10

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    December 14, 2013 at 8:08 pm | Reply
  2. shopping

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    November 16, 2012 at 11:26 pm | Reply
  3. james

    I would like to know if these two senior officers ended any careers of junior officers or senior ncos in their command for similar behavior. If they did, they should suffer the same consequence.

    November 15, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Reply
  4. donpavo02

    who cares that he sent a potentially flirtatious email. every media outlet that spends time covering this is worthless. there are so many more important issues than this

    November 15, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Reply
  5. Jim

    This story illustrates the whole insane obsession with making sure powerful married men don't get any. Its OK if gays and single men screw around. Its OK if unmarried woman sleep around and have illegitimate babies. Its OK if men and women divorce their spouses and abandon their families. But its an unpardonable sin if a married man sent a flirtatious email to a young pretty woman!! No wonder fewer and fewer men are getting married and more and more think its a scam. Petraeus deserves the Congressional Medal of Honor for staying with his dumpy, frumpy wife as long as he has, rather than dumping her long ago for one of the many pretty, fit women who were sure to be attracted to a powerful successful man who works to stay fit. .

    November 15, 2012 at 8:21 pm | Reply
    • WhenInDoubt

      Dude, you sound so jealous of single people. No one puts a gun to a guy's or woman's head & forces them to marry. But the bride and groom DO take vows that they're supposed to honor. Heck, don't get married! If you do, my motto is "Work it out or get out-don't weasel out by cheating." When things start to suck in your marriage, make the mature choice: get help to make the relationship better or cut your losses. Idiots cheat.

      November 15, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Reply
      • Reggie

        What your individual issue it is up to you. My issue is I don't think the media should focus on such.

        November 15, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Todd

      You sound like a sad old goat who is jealous of single guys and all the "benefits" they get, but also wants to keep the benefits of being married. It doesn't work like that, man. No one's forcing you to get married – but you can't have it both ways. You have to pick one or the other.

      And you might want to get real about those fit, pretty women too – they're not really attracted to a guy like Petraeus. They're attracted to either his money or the fame associated with being at the center of something like this (bet Paula Broadwell writes a book about it and goes on reality T.V!) You're not seducing them, they're playing you. Usually just for some coach bags and expensive dinners, but make no mistake about it they're using you.

      November 16, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Reply
    • northerstar

      A 4 Start General should know better than sending 20,000 to 30,000 pages of emails that "might" be misunderstood to anyone. In the corporate world we learned long ago that everything you write will "come back" at some point. I am certain if you asked him, he would tell you that he would not "do it again".

      November 28, 2012 at 10:29 am | Reply
  6. Reggie

    I don't care if he hangs out with Pee Wee Herman! Show me only the things that really matter and illegal that he does not what circus he attends. People get real!

    November 15, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Reply

      Please define, oh great one, exactly what it is that matters.

      November 15, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Reply
    • Brycan

      Please define, oh great one, exactly what it is that matters.

      November 15, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Reply
      • Brycan

        I said that.

        November 15, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • shawngibson

      So here's how it works: If you are in the public eye, then suddenly if you take a crap at the wrong time, IT COUNTS, and if you have an affair, IT COUNTS, and if you blow your nose while in counts! There is something wrong with the current system. NO-ONE should have such access to when you blow you nose.

      Some things are about the people; some things are about the person. The former is up for scrutiny; the later is not...not in a sane world, at least.

      November 15, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Reply
  7. havienam

    Hey guys, you should look what Allen have been contributing to your nation that He sold entire his life to. The flirtous emails is his personal probs and dont understand why you guy want to attack him ????!! You should blaim the war...

    November 15, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Reply
  8. Eddie Haskell

    I think it's terrible. I wish I could see them!!!! lol

    November 15, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Reply
  9. noteasilyswayed

    Every time McCain opens his mouth, he embarrasses himself and his party. The man is either senile or paranoid (or both). This country would have been up to S___T creek had he been elected. He should have retired years ago and he would have gone out as a hero, not an idiot.

    November 15, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Reply
  10. Erica

    Who cares!?! Some man wanted to get laid. THIS ISN'T NEWS!! If it isn't jeopardizing my liberty and safety, I don't want to hear about it!

    November 15, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Reply
    • Mike

      It is jeopardizing your safety. If foreign intelligence services find out that he has a loose zipper and a lust for other women, he could get blackmailed or used by foreign intelligence. It has everything to do with national security when the CIA director doesn't have his personal house in order. Maybe if you read about past incidents with other agencies/countries, you would understand why it's a big deal.

      November 15, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Reply
      • Studly

        I would suggest that powerful men (generals, presidents, etc.) have been lusting after women and having affairs since time began. We all know several great examples (JFK, Clinton, Thomas Jefferson, to name a few). The only difference is that in the email age, these are more likely to come to light. Why should we treat or think of them professionally differently today than we have for thousands of years? Why should an affarir today be considered so serious as you suggest? Moral? No. Something new and scary? No.

        November 15, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
      • Frank

        OMG! He could! He might! It's possible that a terrorist could be hiding In Your Pants right this very second! Go to Alert Level Orange immediately! Take off your shoes! Stand on that spot right there and spread your legs! Don't you understand?!? He might possibly be blackmailed!!! World War III! AAAAAAUUUUUUGGGHHHHH!!!!!!

        November 15, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
      • TexMan

        Do you really take pride in being that ignorant?

        November 15, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
  11. Bob

    Honestly, if this guy wants to cheat on his wife that is his business. It has nothing to do at how he performs his duties. You people watch to much E! news. Worry about your own lives, I'm sure they are not perfect either.

    November 15, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Reply
    • TexMan

      Actually, when you are a spy / and or in charge of intelligence and married it has much to do about the potential to be a position to be blackmailed or compromised.

      Some knowledge of history and similar incidents would help put it into perspective for you.

      November 15, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Reply
      • Mike

        Well said. I've tried explaining that to many people, but they always give the "it's their business" routine, without thinking critically about the ramifications of a high-level security official who sleeps around.

        November 15, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Jeremy

      In the military, adultery is a crime punishable by court martial.

      November 15, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Reply
  12. HuPhartNgau

    Fundamental rule of email: If you don't want your Mama or a judge to read it; DON'T SEND IT!

    November 15, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Reply
  13. GIUK

    It's great to see that General Allen isn't too overworked, or stressed out by fighting a war, to take time out to write filthy emails to a bimbo.

    November 15, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Reply
    • Z_2k

      Since you have no knowledge of the content of those email, but feel confident to judge them to be "filthy", I have confidence to judge you as a low-brow who's comments are being blown out your rectum (to avoid using a word that would ge this response censored by the net-cop admin)

      November 15, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Reply
  14. enuftrashtalk

    Its a case of: "What did the General tweet, and when did he tweet it !"

    November 15, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Reply
  15. CRG

    While much of this is political, I am amazed that people, especially those in power, are not more careful about what they say in an email or put on the internet. I recall years ago warning my employees about what they said in emails. One should never consider email or a social media private. This is simple logic.

    November 15, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Reply
  16. Kgb263

    If you are the leader of the CIA and you can't squash a few emails from being posted, then what does that say for the rest of it.

    November 15, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Reply
    • enuftrashtalk

      If you are the head of the CIA and you can't keep the *FBI* from reading your mail, what does *that* say?

      November 15, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Reply
  17. TexMan

    The biggest inquiry should be when did this guy find the time to do his job?

    Running a war and emailing a civilian socialite has to be at least as bad as texting and driving.

    November 15, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Reply
    • brianNH


      November 15, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Reply
    • Bob

      So you expect this guy to be working 24 hours a day 7 days week? I think I'll keep you to the same standard. You get off CNN and GET TO WORK!

      November 15, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Reply
      • TexMan

        Really? 30,000 emails works for you?

        Tell that to soldiers who are in harms way 24/7

        November 15, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  18. sam

    here we go again. the congress has found something to waste their time on instead of solving bigger issues facing the country.let the investigation take its course and if nothing has been compromised then let the individuals family deal with issue of infidelity. what a waste of time for congress to spend on a issue like this. let us worry about the fiscal cliff and how to prevent it. people who are not involved in it should be sent to places like new york/jersey to address issues relating to sandy than to sit in dc and appear on tv channels and giving worhtless comments

    November 15, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Reply
    • CRG

      This is the best comment I have read yet on this subject.

      November 15, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Reply
    • James

      well said Sam

      November 15, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Reply
    • Kay

      Thank you, Sam.

      November 15, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Reply
  19. Hahaha....

    This whole thing was just a gag done by "Just for Laughs" gag TV in Montreal. They sent all the emails. The Canadians are laughing their heads off.
    But really, when times are depressing, some comedy is called for. Let the generals roll, I say. Every day the scandal seems to get bigger and better. This is well paid for entertainment for all the oppressed taxpayers. Kudos to the 1st media outlet to publish the juiciest emails. All those hurricane victims should take up residence in the military barracks until we get a real military trained.

    November 15, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Reply
  20. thewashman

    Who cares!

    November 15, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Reply
    • Andrea

      It was also embarrassing when Prince Charles said he wanted to be Camilla's tampon! – most is embarrassing re. private conversations when intimate. He recovered . . . so will Allen. I hope none of the contents is revealed for his sake.

      November 15, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Reply
      • Melanie

        Tat is just gross! Seriously!

        November 15, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • UhWhoCares

      People cheat every day and this guy is wrong only because of his position...if it is wrong to cheat then everyone who does it should be dragged through the mud...cheating on your spouse is wrong no matter who it is.

      November 15, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Reply
      • txtriathlete1967

        Most people who do cheat get dragged through the mud. My ex-wife cheated on me while deployed. She was stupid enough to videotape and take pictures of her encounters and left them on our computer. I'm sure her family and friends enjoyed seeing the emails with attached pics/video...

        November 15, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  21. ART

    People please what is wrong with Republicans,with all that has happened and is happening this is what their focus is on. Gen Patreaus had an affair he did not sodomise an under age boy or rape anybody and the only one he needs to answer to is his wife. Not to mention he has already resigned his position. Give me a break. Then you have Graham and Mccain talking all this crap about embassador Rice, they really are just embarrassing themselves. I would give that woman my vote anytime if she were runnning against either one of them, they need to both retire and go away.

    November 15, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Reply
    • Kgb263

      If it was the Republicans it would have came out a little earlier than the day after the election.

      November 15, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Reply
      • billyboy

        Excellent point.

        November 15, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
      • jnpa

        Well Eric Cantor knew about it all way before the election and never told anyone. Maybe because Petraeus is a repub and maybe he was considered as having a future in the GOP!

        November 15, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • waheid

      Agree that the comments by McCain and Lindsay Graham about Amb. Rice were outrageous. McCain makes less and less sense every time he opens his mouth. The man needs to retire to a nice, cozy home for old people. Having been a U.S. Senator, he'll notice little difference in either the environment or the people around him.

      November 15, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Reply
  22. Joe

    Government should respect privacy. This is such a waste, unless there is a threat to others investigating a love triangle with no impact to anyone but those involved should remain the business of those involved. I am also sure that family members hurt but such things don't like the publicity either. Investigate the many unsolved crimes, or drug dealers on our streets that are still causing harm, could solve alot more with those resources shifted from something where no crime or hurt (other than those family members betrayed) was done. He is no longer in the position at the CIA, so no potential conflict remains there, move on. Are they going to make up something to charge him with? I feel for the family he betrayed; let them heal and move on

    November 15, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Reply
    • Billweiser

      I agree fully Joe. This is no ones business, and if they haven't found any thing, then what is there point? This kind of B.S. always surrounds after Nov. elections it seems.

      November 15, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Reply
      • txtriathlete1967

        So y'all are ok with the FBI investigating the CIA director with no oversight or notice to the Administration? They weren't investigating Petraeus for having an affair, they were investigating to see if there was a potential for blackmail or if a crime had been committed; finding the affair was a by-product. Only two scenarios that need to be investigated by Congress: 1) FBI investigated on potential national security breach and didn't inform either the Administration or Congress (big no no's) or 2) FBI informed Administration who then held onto the information until after the election so as to not let it affect news cycle leading up to election.

        November 15, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • northerstar

      Since it looks like the affair occured while in was in the army; he violated several "rules of conduct" that he had agreed to live by; and as a 4 star general was required to make certain everyone under his command lived by. If he was still in the army he could be CHARGED and convicted under the Army Code of Conduct for (1) commiting adultry and (2) having an affair with a junior officer (she is in the National Guard). He violated the rules of the Army. It is no longer "personal". We have the right to expect better from people we expect to LEAD.

      November 15, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Reply
      • TexMan

        The time line indicates it happened after he resigned and became the CIA Director. He resigned and that was the right thing to do. It also appears that he is going to testify tomorrow.

        The only question I still have is why an FBI agent reported to Eric Cantor and why Eric Cantor sat on the information for weeks.

        November 15, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
      • jlib

        She's not a junior officer though. LTC=Battalion Commander

        November 15, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • Fig1024

      I think the real controversy here is that some FBI guys can just "decide" on their own to start snooping around other people's emails, and have the tools to spy even on higher ranking officials. That means none of us are safe from jerks at FBI who decide to spy on random people just cause they are bored or have some petty revenge cause you looked at them funny one day.

      I don't want anyone to have such power

      November 15, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Reply
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