Gen. John Allen, a decorated military veteran and the top commander in Afghanistan who was slated to take over as supreme allied commander in Europe, has been cleared of any wrongdoing over a series of emails he exchanged with Tampa socialite Jill Kelley as a result of the extramarital affair that led to Gen. David Petraeus' resignation at head of the CIA.
In a letter sent last Friday and released on Tuesday, the Pentagon's inspector general said that Allen had not violated any military prohibitions against conduct unbecoming an officer. "He was completely exonerated," said an anonymous Pentagon source.
The investigation began after the story broke that former CIA Director David Petraeus was involved in an affair with Paula Broadwell, a former army major and biographer who had written a book about Petraeus. Kelley had received some anonymous and threatening emails that led to her contacting the FBI. It was later discovered that Broadwell was the author of those emails, which in turn led to the discovery of the affair between Broadwell and Petraeus.
Apparently Allen and Kelley exchanged several hundred emails over a period of time and as a result of the Pentagon investigation, the White House put Allen's nomination to the top European command position on hold.
When Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta was first briefed on the emails, he referred the matter to the Pentagon's Inspector General so that a complete and thorough investigation would be conducted. However, he did not remove Allen from his current command in the meantime.
George Little, a spokesman for Panetta, said in a statement Tuesday evening that the secretary was gratified that the IG's conclusions did not uncover any wrongdoing. "Secretary Panetta has been informed that the Department's Office of Inspector General has concluded an investigation into a matter involving Gen. John Allen," Little said. "The secretary was pleased to learn that allegations of professional misconduct were not substantiated by the investigation. The secretary has complete confidence in the continued leadership of Gen. Allen, who is serving with distinction in Afghanistan."
In an in-depth interview with The Daily Beast published on Tuesday, Kelley defended her email exchanges with Allen, describing them as "pretty straightforward" and that her husband also had access to the account from which they were sent.
"I'm a dedicated mother, a loving wife. We have a very happy, close family. I support the troops. I take pride in feeding the homeless in our community," Kelley told The Daily Beast. "This whole situation is just very sad."
It is not clear if President Obama will submit Allen's name to Congress for Senate confirmation. Allen is scheduled to relinquish his command in Afghanistan in early February.