**Panetta Expresses Support for General Allen**
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says he has "continued confidence" in General John Allen to remain as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, despite his connection to a scandal that forced Central Intelligence Agency chief David Petraeus to resign.
Panetta made his first public remarks on the controversy Wednesday in Australia, where he is taking part in bilateral strategic cooperation talks.
General Allen is under an internal Pentagon investigation after the Federal Bureau of Investigation uncovered 20,000 to 30,000 pages of communications involving him and Jill Kelley. The probe is focusing on wheather the messages were "inappropriate."
It was Kelley's complaint to the FBI about threatening emails from the woman with whom General Petraeus had an affair, biographer Paula Broadwell, that eventually led to the CIA chief's resignation.
Panetta warned reporters that "no one should leap to any conclusions" about the matter.
But White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that Mr. Obama also continues to have faith in General Allen, and thinks very highly of him and his service to the country.
** Iraq Bombings Kill 12 **
A series of bombings across Iraq has killed at least 12 people.
Security and hospital sources say the deadliest attacks were in the northern province of Kirkuk, where four bombs killed at least seven people and wounded dozens more.
Violence across Iraq is down sharply from its peak in 2006 and 2007. However, September was Iraq's deadliest month in two years, with 365 people killed in unrest.