Battleland

The Deeper Rot

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KIss of Death: David Petraeus embraces Jill Kelley -- the woman whose complaint about harassing emails to an FBI friend led to the uncovering of Petraeus' affair with Paul Broadwell -- after accepting a community service award outside Kelley's home in the summer of 2011.

There’s something beyond the affair itself that’s troubling in the Petraeus scandal. It’s the toxic mess in Tampa that led to its disclosure.

There’s something vaguely off-putting about Tampa’s suddenly news-worthy twin sisters, Jill Kelley and Natalie Khawam. It was Jill whose FBI pal sparked the probe that revealed Petraeus’ adultery and led him to resign as CIA chief last Friday. There is also a growing number of press reports detailing the sisters’ checkered history involving a questionable charity, bankruptcy, foreclosures, lawsuits and a shady business deal.

We all know folks like that, and so do four-star generals. But becoming close to them, having them over for Christmas dinner and vouching for them – on the official stationery of your military office — in a bitter custody battle is unsettling. “It’s very useful to be reminded from time to time that four-star generals are not gods,” retired Army colonel Andrew Bacevich said on the PBS NewsHour Wednesday, “but mere mortals.”

Thursday morning, the Pentagon agreed. “Over the past several months, the Secretary [of Defense, Leon Panetta] has spoken with the service secretaries, service chiefs, and combatant commanders about those instances when senior officers have not lived up to the standards expected of them,” spokesman George Little said in a statement. “This week, the Secretary directed General [Martin] Dempsey [chairman of the Joint Chiefs] to work with the other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to review how to better foster a culture of stewardship among our most senior military officers.”

They might start by looking at Tampa, home of the U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command, both located on MacDill Air Force Base, beautifully situated on a peninsula jutting into Tampa Bay.

Why is a woman throwing fancy parties for the brass at the white-columned $1.5 million mansion on Bayshore Boulevard just outside MacDill that she and her husband cannot afford (foreclosure is pending) and share with her sister? Lavish parties there featured Champagne, caviar and valet parking. A Lincoln Navigator SUV and Mercedes S500 sedan (complete with an “honorary consul” license plate issued by the state of Florida…too bad Dave Barry gave up his column) have been outside the house, which features a painting of the Kelley couple hanging in the living room.

Being nouveax riche isn’t a crime, of course, and befriending the military, especially in a time of war, can be emotionally rewarding. But social climbers shouldn’t — or shouldn’t be allowed to — scamper over the uniforms of U.S. generals in their rush to get there.

The sisters upset the more traditional civilian supporters of MacDill, according to Thursday’s Tampa Bay Times:

Mark Rosenthal remembers the first time he saw Jill Kelley and her identical twin in action. It was at a dinner party at then-Gen. David Petraeus’ house, and he was appalled. “They took over the whole conversation,” he said. While the man responsible for overseeing two wars nodded politely, Kelley and her sister, Natalie Khawam, talked nonstop about shopping and traveling. “To me it was out of line.”

Kelley called local police last Sunday in an effort to get reporters away from her house. “I’m an honorary consul general, so I have inviolability, so they should not be able to cross my property,” she said, according to a recording of the call. “I don’t know if you want to get diplomatic protection involved as well.”

Nutcase immunity?

Why were senior military officers attending parties at her home? Why aren’t they sending their regrets, and giving her the names of worthy organizations she could donate time and money to, instead? Outfits combatting PTSD and homeless veterans, perhaps?

Why are senior officers, current and retired, sending letters – emblazoned with their military rank – to intervene in a domestic custody case involving Natalie Khawam? Marine General John Allen took time off from running the war in Afghanistan, and Petraeus took time off from using CIA drones to kill militants in Pakistan and elsewhere, to write letters in September to the District of Columbia Superior Court supporting Khawam as she sought to gain more visitation rights with her 3-year-old son.

“We have, on many occasions, observed Natalie and her son…including when we hosted them and the Kelley family for Christmas dinner this past year,” Petraeus wrote in his Sept. 20 letter to the court [which read, under his signature, “General, U.S. Army (Retired)”]. “It is unfortunate, in my view, that her interaction with her son has been so limited by the custody settlement.”

Two days later, Allen drafted a similar missive. “She is a dedicated mother, whose only focus is to provide the necessary care, love and support for her son,” he wrote, signing his letter above a typewritten line reading “General, United States Marine Corps.” He added: “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.”

Judge Neal Kravitz has yet to rule on changes sought in the custody arrangement between Khawam and her ex-husband, Grayson Wolfe. But last year Kravitz said that Khawam’s “misrepresentations about virtually everything” would continue, according to an AP review of the case file.

“Ms. Khawam appears to lack any appreciation or respect for the importance of honesty and integrity in her interactions with her family, employers and others with whom she comes in contact,” he wrote in November 2011. Not only did Kravitz award her ex-husband custody of their son last year, but also ordered her to pay $350,000 of his legal bills. Khawam filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in April after racking up more than $3 million in debt.

Why does a family judge know this about Khawam’s character, but two of the nation’s leading military officers who claim to have spent a fair amount of time with her do not?

What does this say about their judgment?

Military officers are trained early and often to “stay in their lane,” meaning to avoid straying into issues about which they are ignorant, or for which they are not responsible, or both.

When did Duty, Honor, Country become Debutantes, Hors d’oeuvres, Custody?

34 comments
KravitzWatch
KravitzWatch

:It is the judge - stupid!

Rather than focus on the "crazy sister", take a look at Judge Neal E. Kravitz, an associate judge at the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, and his bias against Arab-Americans demonstrated in the recent case of Khawam v Grayson P. Wolfe and that of another Arab-American male. Historically before Judge Kravitz's recent rulings against the two Arab-Americans in two separate cases, the highest attorney's fees ever ordered in family court were $20,000. In spite of such historical precedent, Judge Kravitz ordered the Arab-American male pay $250,000, and Natalie K. Khawam, an Arab-American female, $350,000 in attorney's fees. A reasonable person can only conclude that race, ethnicity, culture, and/or national origin played a primary role in the findings and determination of Judge Kravitz in these matters. Such bias and misconceived notions of an individual's national origins, ethnicity and/or race by a judge should not be permitted and such behavior is indicative of judicial misconduct.

kravitz_watch@aol.com

206-203-3196

NYCCanalStreet
NYCCanalStreet

they both will be kept around because the war machine has too much invested in them and need them to take out iran....

AliceMaxwell
AliceMaxwell

There once was a great broadway show, CALL ME MADAM.  It appears that when you have spent some time in Washington, DC you get accustomed to enjoying life with these kind people!

When you climb to the elite status, you have to join in their games and pastimes.

bait51
bait51

The above article does not quality for gossip in any sense of the word. The analysis by the author was spot on. I agree the real story is the stupidity and poorest exercises in judgment I have seen in recent years. Just what is the scene in Florida and how much disgusting HUBRIS is there in the upper levels of the military. I wholeheartedly agree that these idiots who are passing as 4 star generals need to retire--without pension--and get a real job. I am sick of the waste of tax payer monies on bloated bags of hot air and hubris while the rest of us have to work for a living. If the letters to family court etc are examples of their "good sense of judgment", then get rid of them immediately. Frankly, I think the letters (and tax payer use of time and money) are telling example of just how great they think they are/how much uncontrolled hubris they really have. The whole thing is disgusting and someone out to be looking at just what these inflated egos are doing with our money in Tampa at central command. I am just disgusted by the whole thing.....how incredibly stupid and ego inflated

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Ok, maybe I'm missing something, but what's the problem with all of this?  This article reads like a scandalous tabloid piece.

"Why are senior officers, current and retired, sending letters – emblazoned with their military rank – to intervene in a domestic custody case involving Natalie Khawam? Marine General John Allen took time off from running the war in Afghanistan, and Petraeus took time off from using CIA drones to kill militants in Pakistan and elsewhere, to write letters in September to the District of Columbia Superior Court supporting Khawam as she sought to gain more visitation rights with her 3-year-old son."

Who cares?  They're grown men and they can associate with whomever they want.  I'm sure no lives were lost due to negligence in the fifteen minutes it took their staff to write a letter and for them to sign it TIME.  Is Battleland in the habit of writing gossip stories now?

jalangaya
jalangaya

Bold, buxom, beautiful Jill Kelley is a fragrant, fashionable femme-fatale, a lovely, legendary woman. No man could resist her.

OkikiolaBeckley
OkikiolaBeckley

We often forget that we are all humans and we tend to focus on accomplishments which are mere patina. The Old Adam is always lurking beneath the surface ready to pounce anytime the condition is suitable.

mime
mime

Circus and clowns. As they say, the show must go on. 

AnalyzeThis
AnalyzeThis

Why are FBI agents starting investigations for friends over so called 'harassing' emails? 

I'm getting some harassing spam these days so how can I contact an agent to begin a full scale criminal investigation? Maybe I can throw a party for local FBI agents and ask about that.

formerlyjames
formerlyjames

Granted Kelley and her twin are red flag airhead low life, and these military leaders showed no discretion or discernible judgement of character, but...what about the bimbo West Point, Ivy League grad, who also should possess some leadership and integrity, but was the real source of the present troubles?  Credentials aren't necessarily proof of decency.  The whole pack of studs and bimbos is a disgrace. 

huneybea38
huneybea38

Did Jill Kelley attend college? I imagine she worked for parent's restaurant. Just curious as to how she went from working there to being married to oncology surgeon. I can only imagine.

fblancof
fblancof

Top article, top judgement! As a matter of fact I wrote these days here about of, how could it be possible for these two 'commanders' to get trapped in such a situation and , I said as well, who have both reached such high ranks and yet showed no  INTUITION or, were so NAIVE (I meant really STUPIDS) to let them be used by these two toxic women and, the other -who had never written a biography before but who was so very smart to create a way to get closer to her 'object'? I am sorry, but  Allen also should resign as soon as possible! Ashame of them for stealing the time to dare write those letters in concern with a private matter of one of these toxic twins sisters. 

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

Couldn't you make a similar argument about the press and their general desire to get invited to posh Washington dinners at the expense of performing actual journalism?

oburoni
oburoni

The Kelleys remind me of the icky White House party crasher couple, the Salahis. Same bad credit history, same nouveau riche poseurs.

silvergoal77
silvergoal77

Wonder how the "Reconstruction Contract" awarded the one twin's husband cost the American taxpayers?

MassimoHeitor
MassimoHeitor

"Lavish parties there featured Champagne, caviar"... You can grab some sparkling white wine and fish eggs from any grocery store for $10 or so. Is such a common food choice supposed to be outrageous or a millionaire-only type of thing?

jmac
jmac

Curiouser and curiouser!  Conspiracy theories around every corner - left and right. 

bokeh9
bokeh9

Wait!  Didn't one of these sisters date Reggie Bush when he was with the Saints?

Jawja
Jawja

Well, the political connections are the Republican National Convention.  Also, she's named  a "consul" for South Korea, and, attempted to insert herself into a deal with a business to broker favor with the South Koreans giving her a millions dollars percentage.  Who knows what else her association w/ these generals has  given her.

TyPollard
TyPollard

Seems like a "follow the money" kind of story. 

Are there any military contractors connected to these parties?

What are the political connections involved?

I don't have any answers. If I were a journalist I would be very curious.

formerlyjames
formerlyjames

@AnalyzeThis  Apparently, the FBI is wondering about this as well.  They pulled the friendly agent off the case for suspicious excess of enthusiasm.  

Fla4Me
Fla4Me

@AnalyzeThis If you look good in a dress I think your chances are pretty good.

Nudelmann
Nudelmann

@MassimoHeitor Oh please, don't play ignorant. Depending on the brand, champagne and caviar can fetch for thousands of dollars individually. I highly doubt they went to a local grocery store to serve the Nation's military elite $10 wine.

DolsonP
DolsonP

@TyPollard 

Very perceptive of you. In fact military contracting does have a role in this unseemly spectacle in Tampa. How did a couple of women like this get to throw parties for the elite in military circles? Well, at least one link is that Jill Kelly's sister's ex husband Grayson Wolfe was a Bush appointee in Iraq reconstruction and has links to Bechtel, which has received $680 million in Iraq reconstruction projects, as well as with the Lincoln Group, which also received millions in government contracts for "information operations," among other dealings related to obtaining government contracts. Neocon ties here.

AnalyzeThis
AnalyzeThis

@Fla4Me  I don't find Arab/middle eastern women attractive at all.  I know why their men insist they cover up.

Fla4Me
Fla4Me

@AnalyzeThis @Fla4Me Really?  Am I reading you right?  You don't find Jill Kelley to be a physically attractive woman?


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