Slatest PM: The "General Chaos" Edition

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 13 2012 5:00 PM

Slatest PM: The "General Chaos" Edition

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***We've revamped our afternoon Slatest newsletter to deliver a text-heavy recap of the day's top stories to our subscribers' inboxes. The most recent edition is below. Sign up here to receive The Slatest PM in your inbox daily before it is published online.***

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

GENERAL CHAOS: The cast of characters in the widening scandal that brought a stunning end to the storied career of all-around national security powerhouse David Petraeus last week continues to grow. The latest additions: the Marine who replaced the retired four-star general as commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan last year, and, um, a shirtless FBI agent.

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LET'S START WITH THE MARINE: The Washingon Post: "According to a senior U.S. defense official, the FBI has uncovered between 20,000 and 30,000 pages of documents—most of them e-mails—that contain 'potentially inappropriate' communication between [Gen. John] Allen and Jill Kelley, the 37-year-old Tampa woman whose report of harassment by a person who turned out to be Petraeus’s mistress ultimately led to Petraeus’s downfall. Allen ... succeeded Petraeus as the top allied commander in Afghanistan in July 2011. He also served as Petraeus’s deputy when both generals led the military’s Tampa-based Central Command from 2008 until 2010."

QUICK QUESTION: What would 20,000 pages of inappropriate emails look like if you stacked them all together? We're glad you asked.

ON HOLD: The New York Times: "'The president thinks very highly of General Allen,' [White House spokesman Jay Carney said today]. 'He has faith in General Allen,' and believes that he has done 'an excellent job' as commander in Afghanistan, Mr. Carney added. General Allen’s recent nomination to become the supreme allied commander in Europe, Mr. Carney said, is delayed at the request of Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta pending the investigation’s outcome."

WAIT, WHAT ABOUT THAT SHIRTLESS AGENT?: Oh right, we almost forgot. The Wall Street Journal: "Kelley, a volunteer who organizes social events for military personnel in the Tampa area, complained in May about the emails to a friend who is an FBI agent. That agent referred it to a cyber crimes unit, which opened an investigation. However, supervisors soon became concerned that the initial agent might have grown obsessed with the matter, and prohibited him from any role in the investigation, according to the officials. One official said the agent in question sent shirtless photos to Ms. Kelley well before the email investigation began, and FBI officials only became aware of them some time later."

GOT ALL THAT? No? Don't worry, we've got you covered with this handy cheat sheet of all the major and minor players in this saga, from Petraeus himself all the way down to Jon Stewart.

WHAT DO WE CALL THIS THING, ANYWAY?: Katie Roiphie on why this whole thing isn't even a "sex scandal." It is just sex. And Amanda Marcotte on why it barely merits the word "scandal."

AN INCREMENTAL STORY: Largely thanks to Twitter, stories like this one develop in increments, a slow drip-drip-drip that keeps journalists racing to report each and every new development, with each scooplet delivered in more or less the same breathless tone as all those that came before. While in some (maybe even most) cases that can be a problem, this one continues to deliver head-scratching twists and turns. The latest two updates: Gen. John Allen also helped Jill Kelley's sister during custody battle; and Paula Broadwell's License Discovered in DC Park.

HAPPY TUESDAY and welcome to The Slatest PM, where your afternoon host no longer fears a post-election news lull. Follow him on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees and the whole team at @slatest.

MORE PETRAEUS COVERAGE FROM SLATE:

DEFENSE SECRETARY JOHN KERRY? The Washington Post: "President Obama is considering asking Sen. John F. Kerry to serve as his next defense secretary, part of an extensive rearrangement of his national security team that will include a permanent replacement for former CIA director David H. Petraeus. Although Kerry is thought to covet the job of secretary of state, senior administration officials familiar with the transition planning said that nomination will almost certainly go to Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations."

STILL-HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI? Politico: "Pelosi plans to reveal Wednesday whether she’ll stay on as the leader of House Democrats. ... Whether she will stay or go has been a much-discussed topic on Capitol Hill since the Nov. 6 election, when Democrats made gains in the House but failed to seize control of the chamber."

WHERE'S JESSE JACKSON JR? Chicago Sun-Times: "U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is no longer a patient at the Mayo Clinic, according to a spokesperson there. The revelation comes as reports persist about a federal investigation into the congressman and it possibly expanding to his wife .... Jackson was re-elected to his 2nd District seat last week although he made no campaign appearances during his lengthy stay at Mayo for depression and bipolar disorder."

SGT. BALES UPDATE: The Associated Press: "Army prosecutors on Tuesday asked an investigative officer to recommend a death penalty court-martial for a staff sergeant accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers in a predawn rampage, saying that Staff Sgt. Robert Bales committed 'heinous and despicable crimes.' Prosecutors made their closing arguments after a week of testimony in the preliminary hearing. Prosecutors say Bales, 39, slipped away from his remote base at Camp Belambay in southern Afghanistan to attack two villages early on March 11. Among the dead were nine children."

NYC POWER: Retuers: "New Yorkers upset with outages lasting over two weeks post-Sandy took one of the region's major utilities to court, arguing residents were forced to live in the cold and dark due to negligence and an obsolete system for dealing with crises."

NON-PETRAEUS QUICK HITS FROM THE BLOGS:

See you back here tomorrow. But until then, tell your friends to subscribe, or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.

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