This story has been updated.
New details are emerging about the resignation of U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Scott Gration last month, revealing what an inspector general’s report called dysfunction, security lapses and poor morale under his stewardship.
Gration, though, claims the report is riddled with inaccuracies.
Gration, a retired Air Force Major General who voted for President George W. Bush but in 2008 campaigned for President Barack Obama, stepped down ahead of an impending inspector general report critical of his leadership. That report — a scathing document detailing Gration’s failed management of the embassy in Kenya — was released Friday.
“The Ambassador has lost the respect and confidence of the staff to lead the mission,” the report found. In a blunt assessment, the report found his leadership to be “divisive and ineffective.” He directed staff to work on projects with “unclear status and almost no value,” it found.
It also portrayed him as a bit of a freelancer who did not read classified front channel messages, used commercial e-mail systems instead of secure government ones for official business (including work that included the use of sensitive materials) and ignored U.S. government policy. “The Ambassador’s greatest weakness is his reluctance to accept clear-cut U.S. Government decisions,” the report found, citing “his disagreement with Washington policy decisions and directives concerning the safe-havening in Nairobi of families of Department employees who volunteered to serve in extreme hardship posts.”
The report also claimed that he was unavailable to meet with senior staff. “In his first year in Kenya he has met only between a third and a half of the prominent Kenyans the mission recommended he see in his first 100 days in country,” the report said.
In an interview, Gration strongly disputed the report, saying it included many factual errors. He said he was “disappointed” by its conclusions and defended his record of leadership.
For example, he said that at no time was his use of commercial e-mail a security threat, noting that at one time he headed information security for the military. And he denied the claim that he didn’t meet with all the Kenyans he should have, saying that he and top embassy officials created a list of those he needed to see personally. “I met with every one on that list,” he said.
He acknowledged that his desire to shift the embassy’s agenda might have upset some staff and prompted them to criticize him. “I did rock the boat,” he said. “I made changes in priorities, and changes can be very hard.”
He says he hadn’t spoken directly to President Obama, but that the president “was aware of my situation.”