Sense of entitlement behind scandal?

Ethics black eyes mar military’s top brass

U.S. Gen. John Allen, is under investigation for alleged “inappropriate communications” with the woman who is said to have received threatening emails from the woman with whom former CIA Director David Petraeus had an extramarital affair. Enlarge photo

Musadeq Sadeq/ Associated Press

U.S. Gen. John Allen, is under investigation for alleged “inappropriate communications” with the woman who is said to have received threatening emails from the woman with whom former CIA Director David Petraeus had an extramarital affair.

WASHINGTON – Three of the military’s most senior leaders are embroiled in ethics scandals, a black eye for an institution that prides itself on integrity.

The latest, Marine Gen. John Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan, is under investigation for more than 20,000 pages of material including emails sent to Jill Kelley, one of the women involved in the scandal that forced David Petraeus to resign as CIA director. Allen succeeded Petraeus in Kabul.

Allen and Kelley did not appear to have a romantic relationship, said a senior Pentagon official who spoke Tuesday on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.

However, an Associated Press report Tuesday morning called the emails “flirtatious.”

Allen is married and has children.

Military law makes adultery illegal.

Experts speculate that these lapses stem from the sense of entitlement in the upper reaches that exists not just in the armed services.

“It’s an old narrative that those at the top often become poisoned by their power,” said Peter Singer, director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institution. “We’ve unfortunately seen the same thing in business, politics, sports, etc. on a regular basis. The difference is, I guess, we’ve come to expect the worst in these other once-respected institutions, sadly, even in the church.”

But Michael O’Hanlon, a military analyst also at the Brookings Institution, advised caution in assessing Allen’s case and drawing any larger conclusions.

“I remain strongly of the view that General Allen is innocent until proven guilty – and I am of the view that he probably isn’t guilty of anything at all,” O’Hanlon said.

© 2012 USA TODAY. All rights reserved.

Comments » Read and share your thoughts on this story