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The Ticket

Defense chief Panetta: Petraeus to testify, scandal unlikely to spread

The Ticket
Marine Gen. John R. Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force gestures during a news conference at the Pentagon, Wednesday, May 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
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Marine Gen. John R. Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force gestures during a news conference at the Pentagon, Wednesday, May 23, 2012. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

At a Thursday press conference in Bangkok, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said he's unaware of any more top military brass involved in the web of scandal uncovered by the investigation into retired Gen. David Petraeus' affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, the Associated Press reports.

The clarification comes now that the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, has been sucked into the controversy after the discovery of potentially flirtatious emails with Tampa, Fla., socialite Jill Kelley.

Kelley had set off the entire scandal by reaching out to an FBI agent after receiving threatening emails eventually believed to be from Broadwell. Those emails led the FBI to uncover the affair between Broadwell and the CIA director. Broadwell had also reached out to Allen, albeit anonymously, in May, allegedly attempting to undermine Kelley's reputation.

[Related: Broadwell seen holed up at brother's home]

"I am not aware of any others that could be involved in this issue at the present time," Panetta said, according to the AP. He added that he cannot characterize the tone of the emails between Allen and Kelley.

Panetta has launched a Pentagon investigation into the affair, as concerns have arisen over whether classified documents might have ended up with Broadwell as a result of her access to Petraeus.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Petraeus told HLN anchor Kyra Phillips that he did not pass along any classified information in the course of the affair. And President Barack Obama stated at a White House news conference that there was no evidence so far of any leaked documents that might jeopardize national security.

Petraeus is to testify Friday on the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11 in a closed hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee. The former CIA director's friend and former executive officer in Iraq, retired Col. Peter Mansoor, said Petraeus is displeased at conspiracy theories that claimed he was avoiding testimony on Benghazi, according to the Daily Mail.

[Related: Petraeus warned of digital trails in speech]

Mansoor also said the general described his own conduct as "morally reprehensible," but not illegal.

Finally, one of the more bizarre elements of the story has turned out to be less risqué than first reported: The FBI agent who began the inquiry into Broadwell's emails at Kelley's prompting, who has been identified as Special Agent Fred Humphries, originally was reported to have sent Kelley "shirtless" photos of himself. But what Humphries had actually sent, years before Kelley's tip about Broadwell, was a gag email photo to several people in which he was standing next to similarly bare-chested dummies at an FBI shooting range.

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