Ambassador Kmiec offers resignation after critical report

Ambassador Douglas Kmiec
Ambassador Douglas Kmiec


U.S. Ambassador to Malta Doug Kmiec has offered his resignation to President Barack Obama, insisting his writings have had a “highly positive effect” on the U.S. mission.

“With the highest respect for your leadership, and with some understanding of the difficulty and complexity of the challenges that you and Secretary Clinton face each day, I ask that you accept my resignation effective on the Feast of the Assumption, 2011,” his April 13 letter said.

On April 7 the U.S. State Department’s Office of Inspector General released a 41-page audit of the embassy in Valetta which included criticism of the ambassador’s management of the embassy and his dedication to his unofficial writings.

“Based on a belief that he was given a special mandate to promote President Obama’s interfaith initiatives, he has devoted considerable time to writing articles for publication in the United States as well as in Malta,” the report said. The audit also cited the ambassador for not managing one female employee’s overtime after she logged 385 hours completing tasks for Kmiec.

In an April 16 letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Kmiec called the report “unfortunate” and based on “the unsupported speculation that someone doing as much writing as I have done could not have been devoted to the embassy mission.”

The inspector general’s office “failed to read any of my writing or see its highly positive effect on our bilateral relations,” he continued, charging that the report had a “flawed and narrow vision” of the embassy’s diplomatic mission.
Although some news outlets said the report rebuked Kmiec for speaking about subjects such as abortion and his religious beliefs, the report did not cite any specific comments from Kmiec. His articles have upset administration officials in Washington, according to the Associated Press.

Kmiec’s resignation letter to President Obama said the report expressed “dissatisfaction” with the extent of time he has devoted to promoting “personal faith and greater mutual understanding of the faiths of others as the way towards greater mutual respect.” Kmiec said he believes the president believes in these things “most strongly.”

The ambassador wrote that the only true and lasting peace will incorporate “sensitivity to the world’s faith traditions in diplomacy.” He expressed doubts about whether one could ever spend “too much time” on interfaith understanding.

The audit had also criticized Kmiec’s “unconventional approach,” his reluctance to accept the guidance and instructions of State Department officials, and the low frequency of his meetings with senior Maltese government officials, business executives and diplomatic colleagues.

Kmiec, 59, is a pro-life Catholic who was a prominent and controversial backer of President Obama during the 2008 election campaign. He is a law professor at Pepperdine University and he served in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations.

The ambassador’s letter to President Obama closed with praise for Malta.

“I will forever value the privilege of representing my country in this proud and ancient land which, while geographically small, looms large in its commitment to the things that really matter. The world will never be in want of ‘uncommon kindness’ so long as there are the Maltese.”