Who's who in the top-brass sex scandal gripping America

A writer, a socialite and thousands of emails have unseated a CIA director and now threaten an army general

LAST UPDATED AT 16:18 ON Wed 14 Nov 2012

PRESIDENT OBAMA has been forced to publicly back Gen John Allen (above right), the leader of coalition forces in Afghanistan, after he was dragged into the sex scandal that has already forced the resignation of CIA director David Petraeus. The scandal, which involves Petraeus's biographer, a Florida socialite and thousands of "inappropriate" emails, is bizarre, complicated and continues to deepen. So, who are the main players in this scandal?
 
David Petraeus
David Howell Petraeus was a four-star general who led the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan before taking the helm of the Central Intelligence Agency in April 2011. He began an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, in November that year, according to The Guardian. He ended it in the summer of 2012 when he learned that Broadwell had been sending harassing emails to Jill Kelley, a family friend of the Petraeuses. Petraeus resigned in late November when an FBI investigation into Broadwell's hostile emails exposed the affair. His wife of 37 years, Holly Petraeus, is "beyond furious" according to ABC News.
 
Paula Broadwell
Paula Dean Broadwell, 40, is a former US Army officer turned academic and writer. Vernon Loeb, the Washington Post editor who co-authored Broadwell's flattering book about Petraeus, says he was "dumbfounded" to learn of the affair. But he admits he had wondered why the general gave Broadwell such intimate access. "On rare occasions, her good looks and close access would prompt a colleague to raise an eyebrow about their relationship," wrote Loeb in The Washington Post, "but I never took it seriously." Broadwell appears to have seen Jill Kelley as a "romantic rival" says the Chicago Tribune.
 
Jill Kelley
"We and our family have been friends with General Petraeus and his family for over five years," said Jill Kelley, 37, in a statement released after the affair between Broadwell and Petraeus became public. It is not clear why Broadwell considered the mother-of-three a threat, says The Daily Telegraph, but Kelley received a torrent of emails including a warning to "stay away from my guy". Kelley certainly cultivated her links to the military. "At the parties she hosted at her Tampa, Florida mansion, guests were frequently treated to the indulgences of celebrity life: valet parking, string quartets on the lawn, premium cigars and champagne, and caviar-laden buffets," writes The Independent. Among her friends in the US Army top brass was Gen John Allen who, it now transpires, has sent her as many as 30,000 emails since they met in 2010.

Gen John Allen
The US and Nato's top commander in Europe is under an FBI investigation for "inappropriate communications" with Jill Kelley. Allen bombarded Kelley with emails many of which were salacious, according to Fox News. Allen "engaged in much more than 'flirtatious' behaviour", Fox says and quotes an unnamed official likening the email exchanges to "phone sex". Allen remains the head of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, but Defence Secretary Leon Panetta has referred the case to the Pentagon's inspector general's office for investigation. For the time being, Allen's nomination to be commander of US European Command and commander of Nato forces in Europe is on hold. · 

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