Defenders of both ex-CIA director David Petraeus and Gen. John Allen deny they were romantically involved with Jill Kelley, and even if that's true, the lady sure knew how to pull strings. Petraeus and Allen both wrote letters to the judge in Kelley's identical twin sister's ugly custody fight, the New York Post reports. The four-star generals (one retired) wrote to defend the mothering skills of Natalie Khawam, Kelley's sister (the Post says that's the twin at left with Petraeus). The news comes hours after the Pentagon revealed Allen was under investigation by the FBI for, as a source told the Washington Post, 20,000 to 30,000 pages of emails with Kelley. (In its own report this morning, the AP has described the emails as "flirtatious," but cautiously adds: "It wasn't immediately clear who wrote the flirtatious notes — Allen, Kelley or both." Allen's defenders say Allen has done nothing wrong, and that there were far fewer emails than the report indicates.) This news comes a several hours after reports that Kelley emailed Petraeus over the harassing emails Petraeus's lover Paula Broadwell sent Kelley and a day after the revelation that the FBI agent who kicked off the case got obsessed with Kelley and emailed her shirtless photos of himself. Why are these guys willing to do so much for this woman? We're not sure, but here's what we know:
Kelley, 37, is from Philadelphia, and is married to cancer surgeon Scott Kelley. They appear to be rich and host fancy parties in Tampa at their fancy house, at right. Petraeus once showed up at Kelley's party in a 28-car motorcade. She organized parties at MacDill Air Force Base for officers. (These parties are like military proms, where the officers wear all their ribbons and medals on their Class As and the women wear sparkly long dresses.)
Natalie Khawam, Kelley's identical twin sister, lives with the Kelleys in Tampa, Business Insider reports. Khawam is a lawyer in Tampa who is "currently embroiled in a nasty lawsuit with her former employer, whom she has accused of sexual harassment and other charges. The employer has fought back with court documents claiming Khawam has a 'history of abusing the litigation process.'" Khawam owes $3.2 million in unpaid debt. In her custody fight, the New York Post reports, Khawam took her child to Florida when he was four months old after a fight with the child's father, Grayson Wolfe, who couldn't see the kid for more than a year. The judge gave full custody to Wolfe, told Khawam to pay $350,000 in legal fees, and cited her for “outrageous conduct,” “bad faith litigation tactics,” and “illogical thinking." Given that Khawam has a background that's not without controversy, it's interesting to read Petraeus and Allen attest to her character in court documents.The Post reports:
“My wife and I have known Natalie for approximately three years, getting to know her while serving in Tampa, Florida, through our friendship with Dr. and Mrs. Scott Kelley,” Petraeus wrote in a letter introduced as part of a legal motion by Natalie Khawam’s lawyer.
“It is clear to me that [child’s name] would benefit from much more time with his Mother and from removal of the burdensome restrictions imposed on her when she does get to spend time with him,” Petraeus wrote…
A separate letter from Allen is dated Sept. 22, two days after the Petraeus letter. “Natalie clearly loves [child’s name] and cherishes each and every opportunity she has to spend time with him. She is a dedicated mother,” Allen wrote. “In light of Natalie’s maturity, integrity and steadfast commitment to raising her child, I humbly request your reconsideration of the existing mandated custody settlement,” Allen wrote. He said he got to observe the mother and child “at command social functions.”
Update: As more comes out about the Kelleys, their influence in the Tampa military community looks even bigger. When her role in the Petraeus scandal was becoming public Sunday night, the deputy commander of the Central Command, Vice Adm. Robert S. Harward, was at a party at her house, The New York Times reports. She appears to work diligently to cultivate relationships with top military officers, as she "has angered some senior officers for what were described as persistent efforts by her to forge close personal ties to successive Central Command four-star officers by deluging them with emails," the Los Angeles Times reports. (Allen's defenders say she asked him for tips on travel to Afghanistan.) And Kelley has tried to claim even greater power than she actually has. When calling 911 about people on her lawn, Kelley asked for "diplomatic protection." Kelley said, "I'm an honorary consul general, so I have inviolability, so they should not be able to cross my property." But the title carries no official privileges or duties.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.