Jill Kelley, the Tampa socialite who reported former CIA director David Petraeus’ mistress Paula Broadwell’s emails to the FBI, had an ID that let her visit MacDill Air Force Base, the home of U.S. Central Command, whenever she wanted during the day, William Levesque at the Tampa Bay Times reports.She got the ID in November 2010, four months after Petraeus left U.S. Central Command to take charge of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
General John Allen, who is currently under investigation for “potentially inappropriate” communications between he and Kelley, was acting chief for six weeks after Petraeus departed.
Kelley’s pass was renewed in 2012. However, the pass was revoked on Tuesday pending an investigation by the Pentagon.
The program, called “Friends of MacDill,” started in 2011 and initially allowed only 200 people, consisting mostly civic and business leaders, to carry the passes. The idea behind it was simple: Allow more access, not less, to qualified people.
The media loved the outreach and so did the locals. There were security concerns initially, but the program required applications, background checks, and even fingerprints.
Also, civilians with access are allowed to bring as many as five guests with them (who didn’t need their own special IDs), but aren’t allowed on base after dark.
They’re allowed to use the base’s two golf courses, several restaurants, and its bowling alley, among other things. For $17 a month, they could become honorary members of the Officer’s Club.
Air Force Col. Lenny Richoux, who plans events for visitors, told The Tampa Bay Times at the time that he “got approval and advice from SOCOM and Central Command before starting the program, in addition to his Air Force bosses.”
“Safety is not compromised in doing this,” Richoux assured the The Times. “Security is a big responsibility, and I don’t take it lightly.”
The program is not unheard of for Air Force Bases around the country, but does open the door for accusations of favoritism and perceived political jockeying.
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