What precisely “this matter” is remains the topic of much speculation within the halls of the Pentagon. What is known is that the FBI found between 20,000 and 30,000 “potentially inappropriate” e-mails between Allen and Jill Kelley, the Tampa, Fla., socialite who was the recipient of harassing e-mails from Paula Broadwell, the biographer and paramour of Mr. Petraeus.
Officials point out that “inappropriate” e-mails does not necessarily mean risqué or classified. Allen, according to Pentagon officials, “disputes that he has engaged in any wrongdoing.”
As to questions about whether Petraeus’s affair did indeed begin after he left his post in Afghanistan, as his former closest advisers insist, Panetta told reporters, “I’m reading the papers just like you are.”
Allen’s confirmation hearing had been scheduled to take place before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday morning.
Panetta has already named Gen. Joseph Dunford, currently the No. 2 officer in the Marine Corps, to succeed Allen. Panetta urged Congress to expedite that confirmation.
Allen had been expected to give some indication of the state of America’s war in Afghanistan during his testimony Thursday.
The developments leave growing uncertainty in some of the highest defense posts in the United States.