Before his downfall, one of David Petraeus's greatest skills was cultivating an adoration from the press — many formerly fawning reporters have admitted as much since the Love Pentagon scandal, and that's not even including the one who loved him. So it was hard not to be just skeptical Thursday morning, when his longtime friend released Petraeus's beautifully handwritten letter of contrition and gave a few news outlets an interview about it. Retired Brig. Gen. James Shelton (left) showed the letter, in which the former CIA director says he "screwed up royally," to the New York Post, ABC News, and, curiously, the Daily Mail.
In his PR surge, Shelton, a charming crusty old officer who kept his military haircut despite his retirement, explains that Petraeus is "a superb human being" who made a mistake. Petraeus's letter to Shelton includes the obligatory lines about what a great wife he has to stick by him. "Team Petraeus will survive though have obviously created enormous difficulty for us," the letter says. "Holly is however once again demonstrating how incredibly fortunate I was to marry her."
Other members of the Love Pentagon scandal have not been as careful in rebuilding a classy image post-scandal. Jill Kelley — who created the scandal by telling her FBI agent friend that she's received anonymous emails from someone saying Kelley was flirting with Petraeus, which prompted an investigation that exposed the emailer as Paula Broadwell, who was having an affair with Petraeus — is threatening to sue federal officials for allegedly leaking her name to the press.
Kelley's relationship with Gen. John Allen, with whom she had a voluminous email exchange, is unclear. The New York Times reported earlier this week that the investigation of the emails has narrowed to 60 or 70 potentially provocative ones that "bear a fair amount of scrutiny." One law enforcement official told the Times they were sexually explicit. But The Washington Post reports that the emails "taken out of context, could be read to be flirtatious," but calling them "'phone sex,' is not true," a person close to Kelley told the paper.