Former U.S. Ambassador to Kenya writes a book-“Warrior Diplomat”
Titled Warrior-Diplomat, it follows Gration’s time in the military — from flying 274 combat missions over Iraq as a U.S. fighter pilot to serving as the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s director of information operations — and at the State Department, where he was appointed by President Obama as the special envoy to Sudan before serving as ambassador to Kenya.
“I was a diplomat while in the military and a warrior in the State Department,” Gration wrote in an email to The Hill and other news outlets.
Gration, who currently lives in Kenya with his wife and leads a company focused on international investment, left the State Department in the summer of 2012, weeks before a scathing inspector general report criticized his management skills, private email use and general “reluctance to accept clear-cut U.S. Government decisions.”
That report saw renewed interest this week in light of news, first reported by The New York Times, that Clinton similarly used a private email account during her four years at the State Department, from 2009-2013.
“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 told The Hill. “I’ve chosen to move on and to be better, not bitter.”
“I make no apology for ‘rocking the boat’ in the State Department to improve physical security, to enhance cyber policy, and to conduct several other initiatives that the State Department Inspector General misrepresented to build the case that Secretary Clinton’s Chief of Staff used to terminate my tenure as the US Ambassador in 2012,” he added.
A State Department official told The Hill on Thursday that Gration offered his resignation shortly before the release of the report, which cited “several concerns with management and leadership at our embassy in Nairobi.”
The inspector general report charged, among other managerial concerns, that Gration “willfully disregarded Department regulations on the use of commercial email for official government business.”
The former Air Force major general pushed back Friday, calling those allegations “false.”
“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. My official emails were fully captured in the State Department data bases. I used Gmail for unofficial business and for my personal emails,” he told The Hill.
During his time leading the embassy in Nairobi, he acknowledged turning an unused bathroom into a workspace (staffers who would visit would sit on the toilet), because it was the only area where he could establish an unsecured private network, as well as using a government laptop for private email not connected to the department network.
But he said it was “misleading” to say he drafted and distributed his own policy allowing himself and other employees to use personal email for official business, noting that the embassy cyber policy drafted by State Department cyber officials allowed high-level embassy employees to change information’s classification level, allowing for its exchange.
Gration mentioned other “small battles” with Washington-based IT specialists “when their edicts didn’t make sense,” such as only using Gmail in an emergency while Pentagon, the U.S. Agency for International Development and other Kenyan accounts “used the same routers and security firewalls as a Gmail account.”
Gration said the agency’s inspector general report “contains many egregious lies, falsehoods, and distortions on a variety of subjects.”
He also said that “the State Department Inspector General investigators and Diplomatic Security cyber investigators conducted a full and formal investigation into my use of Gmail and the State Department computers … they dismissed the allegations against me.”
A request for comment from both offices Friday was not immediately available.
Clinton has faced a growing number of questions about her exclusively using private email while at State, including concerns over the security of her emails.