Conflict & Justice

50 Shades of Khaki: The John Allen-Jill Kelley emails





Sure, it was a shock to learn that General John Allen exchanged "between 20,000 and 30,000 pages of communications" with Tampa socialite Jill Kelley, the woman whose now-legendary email inbox led to the discovery of David Petraeus's affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell – who had herself sent Kelley a series of catty messages.

But once you've got all that straight in your head, surely the next thought is: that's a lot of "communications."

Really, a lot. If you figure that each page holds around 500 words, that's a minimum of 10 million words, most of them said to have been exchanged in email form between 2010 and 2012.

Full coverage of The Petraeus Affair

What those words were, we can only speculate. It's clear, though, that FBI agents thought the messages problematic enough to hand them over to the Department of Defense, whose investigators are now trawling through them in a bid to establish whether any boundaries were crossed.

It may make for very dull reading. One source told the Washington Post that the thousands of pages comprise hundreds of emails relating to the military socials Kelley organizes in Tampa. And some of those "routine" conversations may even be printed multiple times, the source claimed, since FBI agents apparently don't know how to delete quoted text (that's his explanation for the high page count, anyway).

Another insider, however, has described the conversations as "flirtatious." (There's hope yet for Fifty Shades of Urban Gray 501!)

Only time, and chatty insiders, will tell. In the meantime, here's what the Defense Department could be reading instead.

[View the story "Five things as long as the Allen-Kelley correspondence" on Storify]