The U.S. ambassador to Kenya was forced out in 2012 after an inspector general report showed managerial incompetence, including his use of a private email system to evade agency rules.
The ambassador’s boss, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, also used her own private email system.
Many of the report’s criticism of the ambassador also apply to Clinton’s use of her own-mail system, which was installed in her home without the usual anti-hacker and record-keeping capabilities required by agency rules.
The Kenya ambassador revelation exposes Clinton to additional charges of hypocrisy, along with the rising claims that she violated ethical norms and legal requirements.
The ambassador, Scott Gration, resigned in June 2012, shortly before the critical report was published.
“The Ambassador’s greatest weakness is his reluctance to accept clear-cut U.S. Government decisions … [including prohibition against the] use of commercial email for official government business, including Sensitive But Unclassified information,” said the inspector general’s August 2012 report on the ambassador’s activities, which was highlighted March 4 by The Federalist website.
“Notwithstanding his talk about the importance of mission staff doing the right thing, the Ambassador by deed or word has encouraged it to do the opposite,” the report declared.
The 63-page report slammed Gration for his use of a commercial email service to evade government requirements.
“The Ambassador uses a government-owned laptop that is not physically or electronically connected to the Department’s OpenNet network … [even though] it is the Department’s general policy that normal day-to-day operations be conducted on an authorized information system, which has the proper level of security controls,” the report says.
“The use of unauthorized information systems increases the risk for data loss, phishing, and spoofing of email accounts, as well as inadequate protections for personally identifiable information … [and] can also result in the loss of official public records as these systems do not have approved record preservation or backup functions,” the report says.
Gration also spurned the advice of the department’s technical experts and bypassed agency anti-hacker defenses. “Very soon after the Ambassador’s arrival in May 2011, he broadcast his lack of confidence in the information management staff,” said the report.
“Because the information management office could not change the Department’s policy for handling Sensitive But Unclassified material, he assumed charge of the mission’s information management operations [and] ordered a commercial Internet connection installed in his embassy office bathroom so he could work there on a laptop not connected to the Department email system,” the report said.
“He drafted and distributed a mission policy authorizing himself and other mission personnel to use commercial email for daily communication of official government business. During the inspection, the Ambassador continued to use commercial email for official government business.”
“The Department email system provides automatic security, record-keeping, and backup functions as required,” said the report.
The “Ambassador’s requirements for use of commercial email in the office and his flouting of direct instructions to adhere to Department policy have placed the information management staff in a conundrum: balancing the desire to be responsive to their mission leader and the need to adhere to Department regulations and government information security standards,” according to the report.