Ambassador Kennedy used private email, watchdog says

26 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Ambassador Caroline Kennedy’s Use of Personal Email Faulted.

Senior staff at the US Embassy to Japan, including Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, used their personal email accounts for official business, an audit report released Tuesday said. In some cases, employees were found transmitting “sensitive but unclassified” information on personal accounts, even though department protocols call for secure methods of transmitting such information. “Department policy is that employees generally should not use private email accounts (for example, Gmail, AOL, Yahoo, and so forth) for official business,” the inspector general said. Employees are also expected to use approved, secure methods to transmit Sensitive but Unclassified information when available and practical.” During a press conference on Tuesday, State Department spokesman John Kirby said that what Kennedy did “is not prohibited” but “is discouraged.” Kennedy and the other diplomats came as Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, has faced questions about her exclusive use of a personal email account when she was secretary of state.

The FBI is reviewing the security of that server, with questions mounting over whether classified material was improperly shared or stored on the Clintons’ private account. Her campaign team has repeatedly said that such an arrangement was permitted, and noted that other former secretaries of state used personal accounts while in office. As is typical of such inspector general reviews, the report was largely critical, although former senior US diplomats said it was by no means the harshest that they had seen and that many of the issues raised were familiar. However, the report noted that, in a departure from State Department practice, Kennedy’s chief of staff attended meetings as a note taker but that there were “gaps” in the record of what was discussed.

Clinton has said the unusual arrangement broke no rules that were in force at the time, although the arrangement has caused long delays in providing federal records to lawmakers and the public to which they are entitled, critics say. The report also noted the economic section of the embassy – which works closely with the United States Trade Representative on the Trans-Pacific Partnership – was not maintaining centralized files, and the embassy has not enforced department or federal regulations on managing records. “Officers have individual files based on their own filing systems, located in personal folders on a shared drive and in Microsoft Outlook email personal folders. It said that the State Department had not addressed some security vulnerabilities at the embassy and that communication between senior embassy leaders and the rank and file needed to be improved. “Embassy staff members lack the guidance they need to make day-to-day decisions on optimal allocation of limited U.S. government resources,” the report said.

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