Inspector general excoriates Caroline Kennedy for mismanaging Tokyo embassy

Celebrity ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the former president, but someone with zero experience with or knowledge of Japan, has been taken to the woodshed by the State Department's Office of Inspector General.

The OIC issued a blistering report that highlighted the mismanagement and ignorance of the ambassador and her staff, including the use of private emails for official business:

The State Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) report said it received reports concerning the use of private email accounts for official business, and identified instances where emails labeled "sensitive but unclassified" were sent from or received by personal email accounts. 

“On the basis of these reports, OIG’s Office of Evaluations and Special Projects conducted a review and confirmed that senior embassy staff, including the Ambassador, used personal email accounts to send and receive messages containing official business. In addition, OIG identified instances where emails labeled Sensitive but Unclassified were sent from, or received by, personal email accounts," the report said.

Claudia Rosette ticks off the IG's fact-finding at the Tokyo embassy.  It's not pretty:

To be fair, the report gives Kennedy good scores for ethics, noting that the Ambassador has “made clear” that “she wants all her activities to be conducted in accordance with U.S. government regulations.” Though it’s far from clear that this message has translated into practice. The report lists numerous problems of waste and mismanagement, including one that sounds especially intriguing in view of the controversy surrounding former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email practices. (Boldface is mine):

 OIG’s Office of Evaluations and Special Projects conducted a review and confirmed that senior embassy staff, including the Ambassador, used personal email accounts to send and receive messages containing official business. In addition, OIG identified instances where emails labeled Sensitive but Unclassified were sent from, or received by, personal email accounts.

There’s a lot more, including:

 ”Living Quarters Allowance Not in Compliance with the Foreign Affairs Manual”

“Actual lodging cost not properly justified”

“Premium Class Train Tavel Policy Does Not Comply With Department Regulation”

“Extra Travel Costs Inappropriately Approved for Using Indirect Routes”

“Employee Evaluation Reports do not Reflect Demonstrated Weakness”

Then there are the overarching problems that speak directly to the Embassy’s impaired effectiveness in matters not just of compliance with regulations, but having to do with the formulation of U.S. foreign policy.

Buried on page 12 is the note:

Embassy Tokyo’s reporting on foreign policy, regional security and bilateral issues is not meeting the needs of senior officials for in-depth, multi-sourced analysis.

The OIG report states bluntly:

The Ambassador does not have extensive experience leading and managing an institution the size of the U.S. Mission to Japan.

It's the practice of presidents going all the way back to the early 20th century to award ambassadorships to friends, cronies, and, more recently, big financial supporters.  But most presidents have at least tried to pick nominees with a rudimentary understanding of the country they were being assigned.

Not so President Obama:

The nominee for ambassador to Norway, for example, prompted outrage in Oslo by characterizing one of the nation’s ruling parties as extremist. A soap- opera producer slated for Hungary appeared to have little knowledge of the country she would be living in. A prominent Obama bundler nominated to be ambassador to Argentina acknowledged that he had never set foot in the country and isn’t fluent in Spanish.

Even former senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the new U.S. ambassador in Beijing, managed to raise eyebrows during his confirmation hearing by acknowledging, “I’m no real expert on China.”

Nobody cared if some ignorant rich businessman was appointed ambassador to some third-world hellhole.  But Norway, Hungary, Argentina, and now Japan are first-world countries, important to our economic growth and national security.  To appoint an airhead celebrity to represent our interests in the fourth largest economy on Earth and a vital strategic lynchpin in an unsettled part of the world borders on lunacy. 

If war were to break out in the region and Japan attacked, our embassy would be the first line of communication with Washington.  Given the IG report, the president and his advisors would be better off watching CNN to keep informed.

Celebrity ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the former president, but someone with zero experience with or knowledge of Japan, has been taken to the woodshed by the State Department's Office of Inspector General.

The OIC issued a blistering report that highlighted the mismanagement and ignorance of the ambassador and her staff, including the use of private emails for official business:

The State Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) report said it received reports concerning the use of private email accounts for official business, and identified instances where emails labeled "sensitive but unclassified" were sent from or received by personal email accounts. 

“On the basis of these reports, OIG’s Office of Evaluations and Special Projects conducted a review and confirmed that senior embassy staff, including the Ambassador, used personal email accounts to send and receive messages containing official business. In addition, OIG identified instances where emails labeled Sensitive but Unclassified were sent from, or received by, personal email accounts," the report said.

Claudia Rosette ticks off the IG's fact-finding at the Tokyo embassy.  It's not pretty:

To be fair, the report gives Kennedy good scores for ethics, noting that the Ambassador has “made clear” that “she wants all her activities to be conducted in accordance with U.S. government regulations.” Though it’s far from clear that this message has translated into practice. The report lists numerous problems of waste and mismanagement, including one that sounds especially intriguing in view of the controversy surrounding former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email practices. (Boldface is mine):

 OIG’s Office of Evaluations and Special Projects conducted a review and confirmed that senior embassy staff, including the Ambassador, used personal email accounts to send and receive messages containing official business. In addition, OIG identified instances where emails labeled Sensitive but Unclassified were sent from, or received by, personal email accounts.

There’s a lot more, including:

 ”Living Quarters Allowance Not in Compliance with the Foreign Affairs Manual”

“Actual lodging cost not properly justified”

“Premium Class Train Tavel Policy Does Not Comply With Department Regulation”

“Extra Travel Costs Inappropriately Approved for Using Indirect Routes”

“Employee Evaluation Reports do not Reflect Demonstrated Weakness”

Then there are the overarching problems that speak directly to the Embassy’s impaired effectiveness in matters not just of compliance with regulations, but having to do with the formulation of U.S. foreign policy.

Buried on page 12 is the note:

Embassy Tokyo’s reporting on foreign policy, regional security and bilateral issues is not meeting the needs of senior officials for in-depth, multi-sourced analysis.

The OIG report states bluntly:

The Ambassador does not have extensive experience leading and managing an institution the size of the U.S. Mission to Japan.

It's the practice of presidents going all the way back to the early 20th century to award ambassadorships to friends, cronies, and, more recently, big financial supporters.  But most presidents have at least tried to pick nominees with a rudimentary understanding of the country they were being assigned.

Not so President Obama:

The nominee for ambassador to Norway, for example, prompted outrage in Oslo by characterizing one of the nation’s ruling parties as extremist. A soap- opera producer slated for Hungary appeared to have little knowledge of the country she would be living in. A prominent Obama bundler nominated to be ambassador to Argentina acknowledged that he had never set foot in the country and isn’t fluent in Spanish.

Even former senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the new U.S. ambassador in Beijing, managed to raise eyebrows during his confirmation hearing by acknowledging, “I’m no real expert on China.”

Nobody cared if some ignorant rich businessman was appointed ambassador to some third-world hellhole.  But Norway, Hungary, Argentina, and now Japan are first-world countries, important to our economic growth and national security.  To appoint an airhead celebrity to represent our interests in the fourth largest economy on Earth and a vital strategic lynchpin in an unsettled part of the world borders on lunacy. 

If war were to break out in the region and Japan attacked, our embassy would be the first line of communication with Washington.  Given the IG report, the president and his advisors would be better off watching CNN to keep informed.