Hillary Clinton is on the verge of becoming the democratic party’s presidential candidate. That alone has left a bad taste in some people’s mouths, but it has just gotten more distasteful for Clinton’s critics. Retired Marine Gen. John Allen has now endorsed Clinton. The general and Clinton share a common past – they were both investigated by the FBI during investigations that started out over classified documents.
What makes Allen think Clinton is the most qualified to become the next Commander in Chief? That question isn’t easy to answer. It is clear that the two have some things in common.
Leadership isn’t one of them. Clinton’s track record includes the Benghazi debacle. Allen has led led troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also as the U.S. envoy in what has become global fight against the ISIS.
“This has been a very personal decision for me,” Allen said in the Clinton campaign press release. “I have stayed out of the political arena my entire adult life, but given the complexities of issues facing our country today and its longtime allies, I felt compelled to speak up and be heard.”
“I have no doubt that she is the leader we need at this time to keep our country safe, and I trust her with that most sacred responsibility of Commander-in-Chief.”
Clinton, gave a speech Monday at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, and thanked General Allen.
“His confidence in me — and that of the other esteemed military leaders who support my campaign — means a great deal to me,” Clinton said. “But it also imposes a high responsibility on me as well.”
General Allen is still very highly regarded in military circles. There are many who were convinced that his career would continue to progress. His leadership was superb, and his track record unimpeachable. And he’s been openly critical of Obama’s decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.
But he got caught up in a scandal in 2012. CIA Director David Petraeus was caught having an affair with Paula Broadwell, his biographer. When that bomb dropped, a huge investigation began into Petraeus’s relationship with this woman, and the potentially classified information he had given her access to.
The investigation into Broadwell led the detectives to Jill Kelley, a Tampa “socialite” who seemed fixated by men in uniform. Kelley had been corresponding with numerous military officials, including General Allen, and these correspondences were rumored to be exceptionally flirtatious.
The subsequent investigation into Allen’s relationship with Kelly derailed his career. Some reports claim there were as many as 30,000 emails between the two. On the low end, the number is a much more modest 300. When the investigation concluded in 2015, Allen was cleared of all wrong-doing. Yet the damage was done.
Even though he was cleared, and was up for a promotion (Allen was nominated to be the head of U.S. European Command), Allen abruptly retired.
So what was in the emails? We’ll never know. The tabloid gossip of the day suggested that they were sexual in nature. Officials dismiss that as salacious slander, and claim Allen had done nothing of the sort. And yet the emails remain classified. All of the various emails associated with Jill Kelley that have been released have been heavily redacted, but not the flirtatious parts. This leads many to think that there was more going on in these exchanges than we’ve been told.
Perhaps this is the kinship he feels with Clinton, who is having her own email issues lately.
Mark Cancian, a retired Marine colonel who served with Allen in Iraq who now works with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in D.C, sees this endorsement as significant.
“It protects Clinton against arguments that she may have been anti-military, at least at times in her past. Certainly back in the ’90s, when Bill Clinton was president, that was a huge issue.”
Even so, he–and many others–have voiced concern about the military’s growing involvement in partisan politics.
“In the White House, everything is political,” Cancian said. “If they worry that deliberations might be leaked or people might go to work for the political opposition, then they just won’t invite those people and they’ll stick with the political appointees that they’re comfortable with.”