Defense officials say Allen insists he has done nothing wrong, though they acknowledged he exchanged “potentially inappropriate” emails with MacDill AFB socialite Jill Kelley. But if the Defense Department’s investigation finds Allen did more than write her and actually engaged in an extramarital relationship, he would be subject to prosecution under military justice.
Although adultery is rarely a criminal matter in the civilian world, it is formally barred under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, to which Allen remains subject even as the senior four-star commander of U.S. and international troops in Afghanistan. If the DoD inspector general’s report concludes Allen violated the UCMJ, it would present his immediate boss, Gen. James Mattis of Central Command — and Pentagon officials in Washington — with what could be some tough choices.
(Also on POLITICO: Gen. John Allen ensnared in Petraeus drama)
Should they let Allen, 58, just retire from the Marine Corps or should they prosecute him? If he is cleared and wants to stay on duty, should the president continue to support his taking over the post in charge of European Command? That would require confirmation by the Senate — Allen will not take part in what would have been his confirmation hearing Thursday — and it could become a circus. For now, Allen apparently continues to hold the confidence of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and by implication, President Barack Obama, as Panetta kept him on duty as the commander of Kabul even after Tuesday’s email revelations.
That’s compared to the case of another top American commander in Afghanistan, Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, who was charged with sexual assault earlier this year. Sinclair was suspended from his post in Kabul and sent home to Fort Bragg, N.C., to face military justice.
(Also on POLITICO: 10 facts about Jill Kelley)
In Allen’s case, if Mattis, as the “convening authority,” thought there was enough evidence to hold what’s known as an “Article 32” hearing to determine whether Allen should be court-martialed, Allen would likely be taken off his assignment. Even if he weren’t prosecuted, his career would likely be over.