U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and other American diplomats in Tokyo used their personal email accounts for work purposes, the State Department’s inspector general said in a new report.
Officials sent and received work-related emails, the watchdog found, including some emails that were marked “Sensitive but Unclassified.” Information marked “Sensitive but Unclassified” is not kept secret for national security reasons but nonetheless “warrants/requires administrative control and protection from public or other unauthorized disclosure,” the inspector general explained.
The revelations come amid heightened scrutiny over former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonNo Hillary — the 'Third Way' is the wrong way The dangerous erosion of Democratic Party foundations The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats see victory in a voting rights defeat MORE’s use of a private email account hosted on her personal server while serving as the nation’s top diplomat.
“Department policy is that employees generally should not use private email accounts (for example, Gmail, AOL, Yahoo, and so forth) for official business,” the department watchdog said in the report released on Tuesday. “Employees are also expected to use approved, secure methods to transmit Sensitive but Unclassified information when available and practical.”
Among other concerns, the watchdog warned that using personal email services instead of the State Department’s official email can lead to “data loss, hacking, phishing, and spoofing of email accounts, as well as inadequate protections for personally identifiable information.”
State Department spokesman John Kirby dismissed major concerns about email behavior on Tuesday.
“It is not prohibited to use private email. It is discouraged, obviously,” he told reporters in Washington. “And we recognize our instances when there may be no other choice, as long as the records are being preserved and recorded.”
The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, he added, “is implementing all the recommendations” in the report, “including the recommendations with respect to email traffic, as we speak.”
Kennedy — the daughter of late President John F. Kennedy — has served as U.S. ambassador to Japan for two years.
In addition to her occasional use of a personal email address, the watchdog report noted that she is “very popular in Japan” because of her family.
However, Kennedy’s “high visibility” has “strained a number of programs at the embassy.”
The report released on Tuesday is part of a routine inspection meant to take place every five years, according to the State Department.