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Tampa socialite Jill Kelley cites NSA snooping in telling her tale

TAMPA — In an opinion piece appearing Tuesday on the Wall Street Journal's website, Tampa socialite Jill Kelley equates her government privacy dispute with the National Security Agency's eavesdropping scandal.

"It has been a full year since federal agents snooped through the private emails of my husband and me, setting in motion a series of events that ultimately led to the resignations of Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus and Gen. John Allen, the commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan," the piece written by Kelley says.

"The anniversary is a somber reminder of the unintended consequences and harsh realities that can result from unrestrained government probing into Americans' personal communications."

Earlier this year, Kelley filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government, asserting it "unforgivably transformed Mrs. Kelley's reputation from that of a respected business and community leader."

The Obama administration is seeking dismissal of the suit. In a response, the Justice Department wrote that Kelley failed to present facts suggesting that the FBI and the Pentagon flagrantly disregarded her privacy rights.

Kelley hosted military officials from MacDill Air Force Base — including Petraeus while he led Central Command — at her Bayshore Boulevard mansion.

She had complained to the FBI that she received anonymous, troubling emails. An investigation traced the emails to author Paula Broadwell — and thus exposed Broadwell's extramarital affair with Petraeus.

Kelley now wants to find out who in the government last year leaked her name and information about some of her emails, including exchanges with Allen, to the media.

The leaks that she had unwittingly sparked the controversy placed Kelley in the middle of an avalanche of unfavorable publicity and, her lawsuit contends, she shouldered blame as the villain in the downfall of Petraeus and Allen, who had also once served at CentCom.

The suit asserts the leaks violated the Privacy Act, enacted in 1974 after revelations of illegal surveillance by federal agencies in the Watergate scandal.

In her Wall Street Journal piece, entitled "How the Government Spied on Me," Kelley writes:

"The country is not safer after reading my emails. The humiliation of and damage to my family should never have occurred. By raising public awareness and holding the government accountable, my husband and I hope we will help protect other innocent families from intrusive government snooping.

"The invasion of privacy that my family endured from the federal government is not unique. Nevertheless, it is un-American."

Tampa socialite Jill Kelley cites NSA snooping in telling her tale 11/05/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 11:59am]
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