US Embassy staff used personal emails for official business

26 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Ambassador Kennedy used private email, watchdog says.

WASHINGTON — Senior staff at the U.S. WASHINGTON—A new report from the State Department’s internal watchdog criticizes the use of a personal email account for official business by Caroline Kennedy, the U.S. ambassador to Japan. The report cited risks to using personal email accounts, including data loss, hacking, phishing, and spoofing of email accounts, as well as inadequate protections for personally identifiable information. The finding comes in the midst of a department review of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s e-mails that were sent and received from a private e-mail account while 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.

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. These included possible new guidelines for retaining government information, better compliance with the Freedom of Information Act and congressional requests, more transparency, and updating the agency’s technology. 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.

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