Just when we thought the downfall of Gen. David Petraeus couldn't get any stranger, new reports indicate that Marine Gen. John Allen, another well-respected, high-ranking general, might be involved in the growing scandal.
Between the allegedly inappropriate emails flying around (those between Petraeus and his biographer, Paula Broadwell, Allen and socialite Jill Kelley, and allegedly threatening ones Broadwell sent to Kelley); an FBI agent who started the probe being investigated for sending "shirtless" photos to Kelley; and both generals allegedly intervening in a child custody battle involving Kelley's sister, it's clear things are growing ever weirder.
Confused? Who wouldn't be. To help, here's a rundown of events, and where things currently stand.
Here's what we know:
Jill Kelley, a 37-year-old from Tampa, Fla., who organized local social events for the military as a volunteer, became friends with Petraeus and his family when he was stationed in Florida. Last spring, she began receiving harassing emails from an anonymous account, and alerted a friend who worked for the FBI.
The FBI began an investigation, which eventually uncovered an affair between Petraeus and Broadwell, both of who are married. The FBI believes Broadwell sent the harassing emails to Kelley because she perceived her to be a rival for Petraeus' affections.
Petraeus resigned as CIA director.
The FBI found something else during the inquiry: 20,000 to 30,000 pages of emails and other communications between Kelley and Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan and a nominee to become the new NATO supreme allied commander for Europe.
A senior defense official has told the Washington Post that the emails were "potentially inappropriate." Other sources strongly denied to the Post that anything inappropriate ever happened between Allen and Kelley, but said that Allen may have used terms of endearment like "sweetheart" to refer to Kelley in his emails to her. The source said Allen, who is married, is "embarrassed" by this, but did not have an affair with her. Allen also received an email from the same account that was harassing Kelley, though it's unclear what the email said.
The Tampa party planner, who is married and has three children, is also at the center of another bizarre twist in the case. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday night that Kelley's FBI agent friend was taken off the Petraeus case and is currently being investigated because his superiors discovered that he sent "shirtless" photos to Kelley before the probe started. After the agent was removed from the case, the agent contacted Washington Rep. David Reichert to warn him that he thought FBI leaders would sweep the investigation under the rug.
Meanwhile, the Daily Beast, citing an anonymous source, reports that the harassing emails allegedly sent from Broadwell to Kelley did not say "stay away from my guy" as previously reported, and did not even directly reference Petraeus. The source described the tone of the emails as "more like, 'Who do you think you are? You parade around the base. You need to take it down a notch.'" The Wall Street Journal reported that one email, without elaborating, asked Kelley if her husband knew what she was doing. Another said the sender knew Kelley had touched "him," without specifying who the "him" was.
And Tuesday morning, the New York Post reported yet another allegation: that both Petraeus and Allen intervened in a child custody battle between Kelley's twin sister, Natalie Khawam, and Khawam's husband.
Also, the AP has uncovered the trick Broadwell and Petraeus used to email each other without creating an online trail. The pair set up anonymous email accounts and drafted emails to each other without ever pushing "send." Each one could log on to the other account and click the "drafts" folder to see if a message had been left for them. This avoids creating an easily traceable email trail, the AP reported.
One question the Daily Beast raised is why the FBI investigated the harassing emails sent to Kelley in the first place. There were no overt threats, such as "I'll kill you," in the emails, and some wonder if Kelley's friendship with the FBI agent may be why the agency investigated what seemed like a humdrum case better suited to local authorities.
Broadwell's father, for one, told the New York Daily News that he thinks the scandal is a smokescreen for a bigger story. "This is about something else entirely, and the truth will come out," Broadwell's father, Paul Krantz, told the Daily News. "There is a lot more that is going to come out."