Mark Hemingway of the Weekly Standard calls our attention to the case of Kenya Scott Gration, the former U.S. ambassador to Kenya. He abruptly “stepped down” in 2012, prompted by a withering evaluation from the State Department, then under the direction of Hillary Clinton.
The report found multiple concerns with Gration’s performance. One of them was the following:
Because the information management office could not change the Department’s policy for handling Sensitive But Unclassified material, [Gration] assumed charge of the mission’s information management operations. He 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. 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.
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.
This report should leave no doubt that, in Hillary Clinton’s State Department, using a private email outside the State Department’s secure system was improper under Department regulations and government information security standards. As Hemingway concludes, if doing so was unacceptable for an ambassador, it certainly should be deemed unacceptable for the Secretary of State herself.