David Petraeus's affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell has devolved further into absurdity as Pentagon investigators do a deep-dive into the inbox abyss of General John Allen's e-mail. Currently the top NATO commander in Afghanistan, Allen's nomination to lead American troops in Europe has been put on hold while it is determined if his messages with 37-year-old Jill Kelley, the military's "unpaid social liaison" par excellence from Tampa, constitute "inappropriate communication," or whether Allen, like any good southern gentleman, just says "sweetheart" a lot. So far, no one can agree on the contents of the 20,000 to 30,000 documents, including hundreds of e-mails, with preliminary descriptions ranging from totally innocuous to "like phone sex."
The tug-of-war being performed by anonymous defense sources include quotes like this one, from the New York Times, which claims that Allen "used terms of endearment, but not in a flirtatious way." According to one official, "If you know Allen, he's just the kind of guy to respond dutifully to every e-mail he gets — 'you're the best,' 'you're a sweetheart,' that kind of thing." But wait:
Even so, other Pentagon officials briefed on the content of the e-mails said that some of the language did, on initial reading, seem “overly flirtatious” and warranted further inquiry.
So maybe it's a little untoward, but no big deal, per the AP's source:
According to one senior U.S. official, the emails between Allen and Kelley were not sexually explicit or seductive but included pet names such as “sweetheart” or “dear.” The official said that while much of the communication — including some from Allen to Kelley — is relatively innocuous, some could be construed as unprofessional and would cause a reasonable person to take notice.
Or it's practically a porno (although sources deny any actual affair took place), according to those talking to Fox News:
One senior defense official initially described the nature of the communications between Allen and Kelley as "flirtatious." However, two U.S. officials later told Fox News that Allen's contact with Kelley was more than just general flirting. One official described some of the emails as sexually explicit and the “equivalent of phone sex over email.”
"It is going to come down to your perspective," one official told the Wall Street Journal. Actually, it's going to come down to the Pentagon's perspective: "As you know, after receiving information from the F.B.I. on Sunday regarding the e-mails, I felt it was important in my responsibility as secretary of defense to refer the matter on General Allen to the department's inspector general so that the inspector general could determine the facts here," said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who insisted that Allen "certainly has my continued confidence to lead our forces and to continue the fight."
They had no choice but to investigate when top commanders turned up in what started as a fairly routine cyber-stalking investigation put into motion by Kelley, who, along with Allen, was receiving anonymous threatening messages later found to be from Broadwell. The Journal reports:
In the email received by Gen. Allen, Ms. Broadwell—writing under the pseudonym KelleyPatrol—described Ms. Kelley as a "seductress" and warned the general about being entangled in a relationship with her, the official said.
When Kelley started to realize the scope of this thing, she reportedly "developed misgivings" about the probe and tried to call the whole thing off, lest everyone be exposed and embarrassed. But here we are.