Military Stripped Of Military Pass

5:49 PM, Nov 14, 2012   |    comments
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TAMPA - Jill Kelley, the socialite whose complaint to the FBI began the unraveling of the David Petraeus affair, was known for her parties for members of the military in Tampa.

But unless you held the rank of general or admiral, you weren't likely on the guest list, according to one retired senior officer who didn't want his name published.

"A colonel is about as low as she'd go," said the officer, who served at the U.S. military's Central Command (CENTCOM) in Tampa and knows the players in the Petraeus scandal.

Nearly all lines in the increasingly tangled scandal involving Petraeus lead back to Kelley, whose complaint about anonymous, threatening e-mails triggered the FBI investigation that led to the former general's downfall as director of the CIA. And now Kelley is the center of an investigation of the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan over possible "inappropriate communications" between the two.

Tuesday, Kelley's pass to go on MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, home to CENTCOM, was revoked because of the investigation. Called a "Friends of MacDill" pass that allows easier access to the base, the first one was issued to Kelley in November 2010 after she submitted information, including her Social Security number, for a background check.

Over the last few days Kelley has called police several times, trying to invoke purported "diplomatic protection" to keep the media and public away from her Tampa home -- even though she has no official title or standing.

"You know, I don't know if by any chance, because I'm an honorary consul general, so I have inviolability, so they should not be able to cross my property. I don't know if you want to get diplomatic protection involved as well," Kelley told a 911 dispatcher, who agreed to pass the information along to police.

In three other calls to police on Monday, a caller identified herself as Jill Kelley and reported trespassers on her property.

"They're trying to push the door open; they won't leave," she says in one call.

"Are you sure you don't know who these people are?" the dispatcher asks.

"I do not know who they are, no," she responds.

Foreign Policy reports that the 37-year-old Kelley is an "honorary consul" to South Korea -- a title described as symbolic, with no official responsibilities.

According to the senior officer, Kelley and her husband, Scott, provided a sort of venue where high-ranking members of the military could be entertained.

At one party, held on the front lawn adjacent to bustling Bayshore Blvd., foreign officers outnumbered U.S. military about 10 to 1 as they mingled with the mayor and other local dignitaries, he said. There was a band, speakers and cocktails. The French and Italian officers seemed to enjoy themselves greatly, he said.

"The opportunity to rub shoulders just doesn't happen on the base," he said.

Much of the entertaining was done with her surgeon husband, Scott, at their bayside home a few miles from base.

On Wednesday gauzy cream-colored curtains covered the windows at the stately Georgian waterfront mansion.

Jill Kelley's Mercedes S500 with its honorary consul license plate remained parked in the three-car carriage house beside a Volvo 880 while media camped in the alley behind the house.

Peeling paint and well-worn wooden rocking chairs on the porch of the 6-bedroom, 4 ½-bath house in the posh North Hyde Park neighborhood gave an air of neglect in an area where most of the homes are meticulously landscaped. The Kelley's purchased the 1923 brick house in 2004 for $1.5 million.

About six months ago, Jill Kelley became a volunteer for the International Council of the Tampa Bay Region, president Gary Springer said. She was introduced to the group by another volunteer, he said.

The council, one of 92 around the United States, partners with the State Department to coordinate professional exchanges with visitors from other countries as part of the International Visitor Leadership Program, Springer said.

Young and mid-career professionals and leaders spend three weeks in the United States "to basically have encounters with Americans to see how we live, work, learn and play," Springer said. "Many have never had any contact with Americans at all. It's part of the public diplomacy program of the United States."

The Council in the Tampa Bay region manages hundreds of volunteers in nine counties, he said. The volunteers help host professional programming, cultural activities, social outings and home hospitality, he said.

Kelley has hosted "a couple of groups," Springer said.

"She's a delightful host," he said. "She's been a wonderful volunteer for the organization."

Kelley, who has not spoken with reporters, leaves the house occasionally, but otherwise appears to be growing increasingly wary of the firestorm that she touched off.

Sunday night, she and her husband released a statement saying that they have been friends with Petraeus and his family for over five years.

"We respect his and his family's privacy and want the same for us and our three children," the statement said.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Kelley tried in the summer to get the FBI to drop the investigation she triggered after it began churning up personal information.

The newspaper, quoting unidentified people familiar with the case, said Kelley, a fixture in Tampa's social and military community, developed "misgivings" after friends urged her to drop the matter, saying it would only cause bigger problems.

In the end, the probe led to Paula Broadwell, Petraeus' biographer and the source of the original threatening e-mails. That, in turn, uncovered Broadwell's extramarital affair with Petraeus, who was forced to resign last week as CIA director.

Broadwell, who was kept largely out of sight since the scandal broke, was spotted -- and photographed -- at her brother's home in Washington, D.C. , on Tuesday.

It has also led to a Pentagon investigation of what a Pentagon official called possible "inappropriate" e-mail exchanges between Kelley and Gen. John Allen, commander of allied forces in Afghanistan.

Allen's nomination to become the next commander of U.S. European Command as well as the NATO supreme allied commander in Europe was put on hold this week at the request of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

A senior U.S. official told the Associated Press that other senior U.S. officials who read the e-mails determined that the exchanges 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.

Allen, 58, has been allowed to stay in his job as commander of the Afghan War and provide a leading voice in White House discussions on how many troops will remain in Afghanistan - and for what purposes - after the U.S.-led combat operation ends in 2014.

The FBI decided to turn over the Allen information to the military once the bureau recognized it contained no evidence of a federal crime, according to a federal law enforcement official who was not authorized to discuss the matter on the record and demanded anonymity. Adultery, however, is a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Allen worked to save his imperiled career. He told Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that he is innocent of misconduct, according to Col. David Lapan, Dempsey's spokesman.

At a news conference Wednesday in Perth, Australia, Panetta said, "No one should leap to any conclusions," and said he is fully confident in Allen's ability to continue to lead in Afghanistan. He added that putting a hold on Allen's European Command nomination was the "prudent" thing to do.

USA Today/WTSP

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