Emailer Who Exposed Petraeus Affair Calls for Privacy Laws

Credit Amy Scherzer / Tampa Bay Times. Gen. David Petraeus, left, Scott and Jill Kelley and Holly Petraeus watch the 2010 Gasparilla parade from the Kelleys’ front lawn.

Credit Amy Scherzer / Tampa Bay Times. Gen. David Petraeus, left, Scott and Jill Kelley and Holly Petraeus watch the 2010 Gasparilla parade from the Kelleys’ front lawn.

The Tampa socialite, who exposed the affair of CIA Director David Petraeus forcing him to resign, is calling upon Congress to restrict access to private email accounts.

Jill Kelley and her husband, Dr. Scott Kelley, wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Post calling for Congress to safeguard privacy as they consider Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

The Kelley’s wrote in their op-ed:

Our family committed no crime and sought no publicity. We simply appealed for help after receiving anonymous e-mails with threats of blackmail and extortion … Unfortunately, reaching out to an FBI agent whose acquaintance we had made resulted in slanderous allegations.

Jill Kelley initially asked the government for help when she received threatening anonymous emails. The FBI investigated. It found the anonymous emails came from Petraeus’ official biographer, Paula Broadwell.

But, the FBI did not stop there. They examined Kelley’s correspondence with Marine Gen. John Allen, currently the top commander in Afghanistan. The emails were reported to number in the thousands, but those numbers have since been refuted.

No criminal wrongdoing was found, but the FBI handed over its investigation of Allen to the Department of Defense Inspector General.

On Tuesday, the IG cleared Gen. Allen of any inappropriate conduct or emails. However, his promotion to commander of NATO forces and the European Command was put on hold and there’s no word if his nomination hearings will be rescheduled.

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Marine Gen. John Allen Cleared in Email Investigation

Gen. John Allen, ISAF Commander. Photo courtesy of the DoD.

Gen. John Allen, ISAF Commander. Photo courtesy of the DoD.

The top commander in Afghanistan, Marine Gen. John Allen, has been cleared of any wrongdoing in connection with sending emails to  Tampa socialite Jill Kelley.

Allen was investigated by the Department of Defense Inspector General for sending a reportedly large number of emails to Kelley who was a “friend of MacDill Air Force Base where Allen had served with Central Command.

The emails came to light after Kelley complained to the FBI about threatening emails from the official biographer of former CIA director David Petraeus.

Petraeus admitted to an affair with his biographer and resigned his post.

Allen appeared to be a collateral casualty as his emails to the Tampa socialite were scrutinized for months and his promotion to command NATO forces and the European Command was put on hold.

But in a news release late Tuesday night, Defense Press Secretary George Little wrote that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta “was pleased to learn that allegations of professional misconduct were not substantiated by the investigation.”

The release continued, “The secretary has complete confidence in the continued leadership of Gen. Allen, who is serving with distinction in Afghanistan.”

There’s no word yet if the Marine Corps general’s nomination hearing which was postpone will be rescheduled.

The Tampa Socialite Who Stole CENTCOM’s Christmas

Gen. John Allen, ISAF Commander. Photo courtesy of the DoD.

The fallout continues from former CIA director David Petraeus’ affair with his biographer. A report, by the Associated Press in the Tampa Tribune, cites a source who suggests the annual U.S. Central Command holiday party has been cancelled due to the high visibility of the broadening scandal.

Jill Kelley is the Tampa socialite who first alerted the FBI about threatening emails she received that eventually revealed Petraeus’ affair. That led to an examination of Kelley’s emails with the top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen. The FBI referred those “reportedly” thousands of emails between Kelley and Allen to the Department of Defense Inspector General which is investigating.

But, Kelley was known by the top brass beyond Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base. Tampa Tribune reporter Howard Altman reports she received the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s second-highest award for civilians:

Kelley was recognized for “outstanding public service to the United States Central Command, the MacDill Air Force Base community and the Department of Defense from October 31, 2008 to May 31, 2010,” according to the award citation. “Mrs. Kelley distinguished herself by exceptional service while supporting the mission of the United Central Command, building positive relationships between the military and the Tampa community, supporting community outreach, and advancing various military endeavors.”

The citation also states that Kelley’s “willingness to host engagements with Senior National Representatives from more than 60 countries was indicative of her support for both the Coalition’s effort and the mission of United States Central Command.”

Gen. Allen’s nomination to be Commander of United States European Command and Supreme Allied Commander, Europe is on hold pending the Inspector General’s investigation.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has asked the Senate to “act promptly” on the nomination of General Joseph Dunford, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, to succeed General Allen at ISAF.

Afghanistan: Troops Re-Enlist, Gen. Petraeus Bids Farewell

Gen. David Petraeus. Photo courtesy of Military.com.

What a way to celebrate the United States’ Independence Day. Re-enlisting while serving in a war zone – Gen. David Petraeus called  it “the most meaningful display of patriotism possible.” On his final Fourth of July as Commander of U.S. Troops in Afghanistan, Petraeus spent the day at two different re-enlistment ceremonies.

The general is retiring from the military to take over as the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Marine Lt. Gen. John Allen. For the full story at Military.com, click HERE.

Petraeus, Mortenson Assess Afghanistan Progress

Gen. David Petraeus

“Hard-won progress” has been acheived in Kabul, Helmand and Kandahar Provinces states Gen. David Petraeus in a letter to the troops dated Jan. 25, 2011.

“To be sure, nothing about the past year’s achievements was easy,” Petraeus writes. “To the contrary, our successes entailed hard fighting, tough losses and periodic setbacks along the way.”

The three page letter is addressed to the Soldiers, Sailors, Mariners, Coast Guardsmen and Civilians of the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). It outlines their core objectives, strategies and accomplishments as well as laying out the road ahead.

“Your versatility, skill, determination and courage have truly been the stuff of history,” Petraeus writes ending with this paragraph, “As always, thank you for your extraordinary service, sacrifice, skill and resolve. Each of you is part of your country’s New Greatest Generation and it is the privilege of a lifetime to serve with you in this critical endeavor.”

Greg Mortenson with Afghan students in Wakhan, 2006.

Another sign of progress in Afghanistan came to light last week when best selling author, Greg Mortenson, visited Sarasota. Author of “Three Cups of Tea” and “Stones into Schools,” Mortenson offered his assessment of progress in Afghanistan to the audience gathered to hear his lecture at the Van Wezel Hall.

“In 2000, there were 800,000 Afghan children, most of them boys, in school.” Mortenson said. “Now, there are 8 million and 2.8 million are girls.”

Mortenson’s non-profit organization, Pennies for Peace, has helped to build 174 schools in rural Afghan and Pakistan villages and several dozen temporary schools for children displaced by floods and other disasters.

Holly Petraeus: A Military Family Financial Watchdog

Below is a blog entry announcing Holly Petraeus’ new role to protect military families from unfair lending practices, give military families a voice and prepare them for “financial readiness.”

Holly Petraeus, photo courtesy of military.com

This entry is from the White House Blog and was posted by Elizabeth Warren on Jan. 6, 2011.

Today, nearly 300,000 American men and women are serving overseas, often in harsh conditions and at grave risk.  For many of these brave men and women, the challenge of everyday life experienced by their families back home is a significant worry, as loved ones struggle with car payments, credit card bills, and trying to find the cash needed to cover unexpected expenses.

Regrettably, the evidence is clear:  servicemembers and their families are sometimes easy targets for unscrupulous lenders.  Even families that stay with mainstream lenders can struggle as the impact of separation and frequent moving takes a financial toll, leaving a family mired in debt and trying to digest reams of fine print.

Today, we have good news to report.

Holly Petraeus will take on a new role at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Implementation Team, directing our effort to establish an Office of Servicemember Affairs.

Elizabeth Warren is assistant to the president and special advisor on consumer protection.

I had been at the consumer agency for only a couple of weeks when I met Holly.  After we introduced ourselves, she got straight to the point: despite strong efforts by the Department of Defense and others, too many military families find themselves in financial trouble, scrambling hard to deal with mounting debts or falling into the arms of a predatory lender.

Holly was then serving as the Director of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Military Line, a partnership between the BBB and the Department of Defense Financial Readiness Campaign that provides consumer education and advocacy for servicemembers and their families.  She knew the challenges facing military families.  Her son, brother, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather all served in our armed forces.  Her husband, General David Petraeus, is serving now as Commander of the International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan.

Holly was doing her best to help by teaching financial education classes to military personnel and in other ways, but she thought that as a country we needed to do more—and she thought the new consumer agency was the way to get things done.  She listed one idea after another, focusing on better law enforcement, tighter rules, and stronger financial education.  She wanted to see action now.

Wow, I thought.  This woman is fired up.

It soon became clear that Holly would be the perfect person to guide the establishment of the office.  She is the kind of leader we need.

Holly understands—from both her personal experience as a military spouse and her work at BBB—that men and women in our armed forces encounter unique financial obstacles.

Recently-enlisted servicemembers often experience their first steady paycheck and their first opportunity to be lured into easy credit offers.  Far too many also get tangled in debt traps.  A recent online survey commissioned by the FINRA Foundation found that almost one in four of the enlisted personnel or junior NCO respondents had used a high-cost alternative borrowing method, such as a payday or auto title loan, in the previous five years.  The same survey found that mainstream credit products can also pose problems: in the previous year, 53 percent of the enlisted personnel and junior NCOs had made only the minimum payment on a credit card, and 30 percent had made a late payment.

Financial problems can be a dangerous distraction for our troops.  As Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford L. Stanley wrote last year, servicemembers “and their families are under increasing stress.  When we have asked in surveys about the causes, servicemembers responded that finances were second only behind work and career concerns and ahead of deployments, health, life events, family relationships and war/hostilities.”  Financial problems can also lead troops to lose their often essential security clearances.  For example, the Department of the Navy reported in 2007 that financial management issues accounted for 78 percent of security clearance revocations and denials for Navy personnel.

Those who serve in the military should be able to focus on their jobs and their families without having to worry about getting trapped by abusive financial practices.  America’s national security depends on that basic premise.  As Undersecretary Stanley wrote, the “personal financial readiness of our troops and families equates to mission readiness.”  Secretary of the Army John McHugh similarly has argued that “Soldiers who are distracted by financial issues at home are not fully focused on fighting the enemy, thereby decreasing mission readiness.”

In her role at the new agency, Holly will continue her work to strengthen consumer financial protection for servicemembers.  The Office of Servicemember Affairs will work in partnership with the Department of Defense to help ensure that: military families receive the financial education they need to make the best financial decisions for them; complaints and questions from military families are monitored and responded to; and federal and state agencies coordinate their activities to improve consumer protection measures for military families.

This month, Holly and I will visit Lackland Air Force base in San Antonio, Texas, where all three of my brothers took basic training.  We will hear from servicemembers and financial counselors about the unique lending circumstances and challenges facing military communities.  In this and in our later trips, we will ask many questions, listen to our troops, and apply what we learn directly to our efforts.

The goal of the new agency is to provide basic consumer protection and to be a voice for American families.  Military families have unique challenges, and now they have a unique advocate to ensure that their special concerns get the attention they deserve.

Elizabeth Warren is Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

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