Fired ambassador: I used State's e-mail for official business

Yesterday, the flashback to Ambassador Scott Gration’s firing by Hillary Clinton in 2012 demonstrated just how hypocritical her use of a private e-mail system rather than the State Department’s had been. Today, though, Gration e-mailed a number of media outlets to correct the record. He didn’t run afoul of the State Department for using private services to transmit official documents, but because he wanted to be able to access his private e-mail from his official devices. Politico’s Josh Gerstein reports on Gration’s entry into the debate, which isn’t terribly good news for Hillary:

“My experience was somewhat different than Secretary Clinton’s use of her commercial account, yet I was ‘fired’ for the use of Gmail in the US Embassy, my insistence on improving our physical security posture, and other twisted and false allegations,” Gration wrote from Kenya, where he now works in the private sector. “I’ve chosen to move on and to be better, not bitter.” …

“It is true that I used my Gmail account to access my alerts and unclassified personal emails. I had subscribed to three ‘alerts’ programs that sent me breaking news stories, analysis of important events, and Africa-related articles…I use Gmail because these services were not available on the State Department’s OpenNet computer network,” the former ambassador wrote. “Over the years, I had also built a professional network that used my Gmail address. I wanted to have access to these capabilities and contacts while at work.”…

“Soon after becoming Ambassador, I tried hard to have my unclassified State Department emails and my Gmail messages displayed as separate accounts on the same State Department Blackberry. I had done this on BlackBerries in the past to eliminate having to carry around two devices. After four months of trying, I gave up and used two Blackberries to read my unclassified email traffic that could easily and safely been displayed on one,” the former ambassador added.

So the issue with Gration at State wasn’t that he used private e-mail services for official business, or at least that’s Gration’s recollection of it. In fact, Gration had no problem using the “OpenNet” system, but State wouldn’t allow him to use his official devices to go outside of it. There is also one other key difference between Gration and Hillary, emphasis mine:

“It is false that I ignored State Department instructions and willfully disregarded State Department regulations concerning the use of commercial email for official government business. I used the OpenNet for much of my official business as I had full access to this system in my US Embassy office and in my residence,” he said. “My official emails were fully captured in the State Department data bases. I used Gmail for unofficial business and for my personal emails.”

If Gration even had one inbound e-mail that went into State’s database, he’d be ahead of Hillary, whose system evaded that capture altogether. How do we know that? She didn’t have an official account at State to use, or to copy in a CC or BCC, that’s why. Some of her e-mails undoubtedly were captured when she e-mailed other officials at State — assuming she ever did, that is. Why not have her underlings do so instead?

The 2012 report on Gration initially read like he’d gone rogue like Hillary and got shivved for it while she continued on. However, a re-read in this context suggests that the truth lies closer to Gration’s story now:



Adding an Internet connection for his own laptop suddenly looks a lot more reasonable. Gration “ordered a commercial Internet connection” to work on a laptop outside of State’s network, but they pointedly didn’t specify whose laptop that was.  State refused to allow him to use their devices to access Gmail, and Gration admits that he finally gave up and used his own. He’d need an outside Internet connection to make that work, right?

The use of Gmail for what Gration calls “unofficial business” is obviously more problematic, as State accuses him of using it to transmit the Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU) material. Gration now says that State overused SBU, turning it from an advisory designation to a de facto classification. Gration proposed a new way to designate material, one that never got approved by Foggy Bottom, needless to say. If that was official business, it belonged in the State Department system anyway, the same way it did for Hillary. But it seems most of Gration’s official work was conducted through State’s systems.

And that makes his termination look even worse in the context of Hillary Clinton’s total and complete evasion of official State Department systems. Hillary fired Gration essentially for insubordination for failing to adhere to directives that demanded he stop using private systems, even when most of his work was still captured by State. Hillary secretly set up a badly-secured private system and did no work through official systems, flouting compliance requirements with the Federal Records Act. It’s even more hypocritical than it appeared at first blush yesterday — and I’d say that was Gration’s point in speaking out, too.

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