- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 15, 2012

MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., is scrubbing its list of 800 civilian “friends” to head off any future embarrassments in the wake of former CIA Director David H. Petraeus’ sex scandal.

“It’s being looked at,” a defense official told The Washington Times. “It’s just the prudent thing to do to make sure everything is legal and is it appropriate.”

Home to U.S. Central Command, MacDill has been thrust into the spotlight because of revelations that a Tampa socialite and the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan exchanged emails that defense officials have deemed “flirtatious” and “potentially inappropriate.”

Socialite Jill Kelley was a member of “Friends of MacDill,” a loose-knit group through which she met Mr. Petraeus when he was an Army general and commanded U.S. CentCom. She also befriended Marine Gen. John Allen, who served there as deputy commander.

The Pentagon inspector general is investigating thousands of pages of emails between Mrs. Kelley and Gen. Allen from 2010 to 2012. Gen. Allen continued the email communication while in his current four-star post as commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Persons familiar with the “friends” organization said it was a vehicle for the base to bring civilians onboard to learn about the military. Mrs. Kelley, however, broadened her involvement by becoming a host for admirals and generals during catered parties at her Tampa Bay-side mansion.

As recently as Sunday, as Mrs. Kelley’s role in the Petraeus scandal was emerging, Vice Adm. Robert Harward, a Navy SEAL by training and CentCom’s deputy commander, attended a dinner party at her home.

Mrs. Kelley’s own actions ultimately exposed the extramartial affair between Mr. Petraeus and his biographer, Paula Broadwell, as well as her email exchange with Gen. Allen.

Apparently viewing Mrs. Kelley as a rival, Mrs. Broadwellsent her threatening emails under assumed names. Mrs. Kelly went to the FBI, which launched an investigation.

MacDill is also home to U.S. Special Operations Command, which oversees the military’s SEALs, Green Berets and other special warriors.

A command spokesman told The Times:”Mrs. Kelley has nothing to do with USSOCOM more than attending a couple of community relations events like a number of other members of the local civilian community.”

• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at rscarborough@washingtontimes.com.

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