Marine Gen. John Allen's massive trove of e-mails to the Florida woman at the center of the Gen. David Petraeus sex scandal were of "an inappropriate and flirtatious nature," a senior Defense Department official said Tuesday.
The DOD's Inspector General was poring over the exchange of more than 30,000 pages of e-mails between Allen, the allied commander in Afghanistan, and Jill Kelley, a social liaison at MacDill Air Force Base to determine whether there was a violation of Article 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice against conduct that would bring discredit to the military, the official said.
Allen "has denied having an extra-marital affair" with Kelley, whose complaint to the FBI about threatening e-mails from Paula Broadwell led to the exposure of the affair between Broadwell and Petraeus, the official said.
When asked to characterize the Allen-Kelley exchanges, the official said "they're not security related -- they're not hate (related) or threatening." But the official said "there was an inappropriate and flirtatious nature to these e-mails."
The official said that "flirtatious" in context of the investigation "could cover anything from innocuous to 'sexting.'"
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who was traveling in the Pacific and was arriving Tuesday in Australia, has not yet spoken with Allen, the official said, but Allen has contacted Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The official declined to state whether Dempsey offered support to Allen, who was in Washington and was scheduled later this week for Senate confirmation hearings on his appointment to become the next NATO commander and head of the European Command.
Panetta has since asked to delay Allen's nomination process as the Defense Department investigates the relationship held between Allen and Kelley. Panetta also asked the Senate to speed up the nomination process of Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, Allen's replacement as Afghan commander.
Allen could face significant disciplinary actions if it is found that he was carrying on an affair with Kelley. Adultery is a punishable crime under the UCMJ.
White House spokesman said President Obama has not yet spoke to Allen about the emails. However, he said the president was "certainly surprised" by the Marine Corps general's involvement in the Petraeus sex scandal.