Jean Kennedy Smith, Washington's Ambassador to Ireland, has been reprimanded by Secretary of State Warren Christopher for punishing two diplomats who opposed her decision in January 1994 to recommend that a US entry visa be granted to Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein president.
Ms Kennedy Smith defended herself yesterday saying that she had always encouraged a "frank discussion" of policy issues among embassy staff.
However, the State Department report into the matter is a scathing indictment of her style. It said the two diplomats had been excluded from social functions and given critical performance reviews.
Although it recommends that "disciplinary action" be taken against her, what will happen remains to be seen. The sister of Senator Edward Kennedy and brother of the murdered President, she is a political appointee of President Clinton. In addition, the visa decision is believed here to have helped the peace process.