Four-star scandal widens to include commander of US, NATO forces in Afghanistan

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Marine Gen. John Allen, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, is the latest figure under investigation in the Gen. David Petraeus sex scandal that has monopolized headlines since last week.

According to a senior U.S. defense official speaking to the Washington Post, the FBI has uncovered between 20,000 and 30,000 of “potentially inappropriate” documents, mostly emails, between four-star Gen. Allen and Jill Kelley of Tampa, Fla. — the woman to whom Petraeus’ mistress, Paula Broadwell sent threatening emails, sparking the initial investigation.

In a statement early Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said that the FBI had referred the investigation to the Department of Defense Sunday, and that he had referred the investigation to the inspector general of the Department of Defense. The Pentagon further notified the heads of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the House Armed Services Committee of the investigation.

While the investigation unfolds, Allen is set to remain as the Commander of ISAF, however his nomination to be Commander of United States European Command and Supreme Allied Commander has been put on hold and Panetta has requested that the president’s nomination of General Joseph Dunford, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, to be his successor at ISAF be expedited.

“While the matter is under investigation and before the facts are determined, General Allen will remain Commander of ISAF,” Panetta said. “His leadership has been instrumental in achieving the significant progress that ISAF, working alongside our Afghan partners, has made in bringing greater security to the Afghan people and in ensuring that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists. He is entitled to due process in this matter.”

Petraeus resigned his CIA post Friday over the affair, which the FBI discovered over the course of an investigation into threatening emails sent to Kelley, traced back to Broadwell and revealing the affair. (RELATED: FBI agent take off Kelley case for sending her shirtless photos)

A senior official told the New York Daily News that the Allen — who was Deputy Commander of Central Command in Tampa, Fla. before he took his current position in Afghanistan —- denies that he has done anything wrong. But another senior defense official told The Associated Press that some of the messages that Allen and Kelly exchanged was “flirtatious.”

“Gen. Allen disputes that he has engaged in any wrongdoing in this matter,” the official told the Daily News.

Monday night, FBI agents searched Broadwell’s North Carolina home and left with what appeared to be two computers and 10 boxes, according to Reuters — fueling speculation that the investigation into Broadwell’s relationship with Kelley and Petraeus is not over.

Compounding the ever deepening trench of debauchery, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that a federal agent who launched the investigation into the threatening emails to Kelley was taken off the case over the summer because his superiors believed he had gotten too personally involved — allegedly sending shirtless photos of himself to Kelley prior to the investigation.

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