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Ethical lapses by some shouldn't taint all, Panetta says

BANGKOK, Thailand — As details continue to emerge about affairs and potentially inappropriate communications involving some of the military’s top leaders, it’s important for the public to realize the ethical lapses don’t represent all of America’s commanders, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday.

“Let’s not forget we have a thousand general officers and admirals who lead our forces, and they do it with distinction and they do it with courage and they do it with good leadership, and they do it with an ethically high standard,” Panetta said. “I don’t think we ought to forget that as we discuss what’s occurred in this last few weeks.”

Retired Gen. David Petraeus resigned his post as director of the CIA last week after the FBI found email evidence that he was having an affair with Paula Broadwell, his biographer. The FBI discovered the emails after Jill Kelley, a Tampa, Fla., woman, asked an agent she knew to find the source of threatening emails she allegedly received. Broadwell reportedly sent the anonymous emails to Kelley.

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During the course of the investigation, the FBI also found several thousand pages of potentially inappropriate communications between Kelley and Gen. John Allen, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Those emails and documents have been turned over to the Department of Defense inspector general.

The New York Times reported, citing an unnamed law enforcement official, that some of the emails between Allen and Kelley were sexually explicit, but Panetta declined to characterize the contents of the several thousand pages of communications, saying he does not want to affect the investigation.

“I have tremendous confidence in General Allen, certainly his ability and his leadership, and I don’t think anybody should jump to any conclusions about where any of this will lead,” Panetta said.

Panetta also said he is not aware of any other officers who may be involved in the scandal.

hladj@stripes.osd.mil

twitter: @jhlad

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