Saturday, April 16, 2011

US Ambassador to Malta Douglas Kmiec to Resign from Post Effective August 15

U.S. Department of State Official Photograph o...Image via WikipediaToday, Michael Sean Winters of the National Catholic Reporter broke the news that U.S. Ambassador to Malta Douglas Kmiec has tendered his resignation effective August 15.  The resignation follows the publication of the OIG report in early April that includes pointed criticisms of Ambassador Kmiec's "unconventional approach to his role as ambassador" which according to the OIG "has created friction with principal officials in Washington, especially over his reluctance to accept their guidance and instructions." The OIG also recommended that the EUR Bureau "require the Ambassador to report on his efforts to refocus attention on mission priorities and eliminate his use of embassy and Department resources on nonofficial writings." (see US Embassy Malta: OIG Slams Political Ambassador for "Outside Activities," Recommends Termination of Employees' R&R Benefits | Friday, April 8, 2011)

In his letter addressed to President Obama, dated April 13, Ambassador Kmiec wrote,

"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."

A copy of his letter of resignation is available
here via NCR.

His resignation letter to Secretary Clinton defended his work at the US Embassy in Malta. He wrote that:  

An unfortunate OIG report published last week claims that high standard unmet on the unsupported speculation that someone doing as much writing as I have done could not have also been devoted to the embassy mission. The contrary proof, Madame Secretary, is in the strength of our embassy. Our work is careful, thorough, and timely, and I am fully apprised of all of it, and of course, fully supported by men and women of great dedication and ability.
His letter also states that an opinion he authored back in 1989 when he was with OLC "stung" the OIG, and that his current experience with the Office of the Inspector General is a "sting-back": 
When I directed the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) in 1989, I authored an opinion confining OIG jurisdiction to that which Congress intended – the rooting out of waste, fraud and abuse, and not an evaluation of an agency’s substantive policies. That opinion stung the OIG and I suspect I have just experienced a “sting-back.” Yet, there is a reason every President and cabinet member since has abided by my OLC opinion, and it is well illustrated in the subjective way in which the inspectors manipulated their policy dislike of the President’s policies, especially his inter-faith initiative, into an unauthorized “outside activity.”
Then, in a parting shot squarely directed at the middle ranks of the State Department, the ambassador alleged that "people of goodwill...have seen it as their calling to strictly enforce" the OIG's "flawed and narrow vision" and that his voice "has been prevented from speaking."  
In the weeks since the OIG’s flawed and narrow vision of our diplomatic mission, people of good will in the middle ranks of our Department have seen it as their calling to strictly enforce it. As a consequence, my voice has been prevented from speaking; my pen has been enjoined from writing; and my actions have been confined to the ministerial. You deserve better, but until these rigid, and rigidly narrow, perspectives are overcome, you and the President are being deprived of the intelligent insight of much of your Embassy’s work.
CNN reported today that the State Department had no immediate comment Saturday on the ambassador's submitted resignation, including whether or not it had been accepted. It also reported on an emailed statement from Ambassador Kmiec:
"With my reputation impugned by the recent ... report, I can no longer be certain that I am in a position with my government to have your needs and perspectives heard in the best possible light," Kmiec said in an e-mailed statement.
CNN said that Ambassador Kmiec insisted that he had tendered his resignation "without pressure from either one or anyone."

The National Catholic Reporter noted that Ambassador Kmiec was not an original supporter of President Obama:
He originally supported former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, during the primaries in the 2008 presidential race. When Romney dropped out of the race, Kmiec switched his support to then candidate Barack Obama and wrote a book explaining how a pro-life Catholic could back the Illinois Democrat despite his support for keeping abortion legal.

He was nominated by Obama in July 2009 to serve as ambassador to Malta.

Ambassador Kmiec apparently is quite popular with the Maltese where comments online prior to his resignation are running in favor of him -- 46 against the "soulless apparatchiks" of the State Dept in single digits, um okay closer to zero.  

Apparatchiks as in commies? Oh, holy mother of goat and her crazy nephews!  So cold-warish and so old century. But given the painful history of  McCarthyism in the State Department, the term used even if meant to refer to functionaries was still ubber derogatory.

In any case, Ambassador Kmiec is a political appointee and I suspect that his service will be publicly appreciated and his resignation quietly accepted.   

And you people of good will
who according to the House last Friday should not get step increases and pay raises for five years, may put away the Aspirin for now until the next rounds of nominations.  On second thought -- given that you can't seem to do anything right these days in the eyes of our elected representatives, you might need those Aspirin on your keyboards or in your badge pouches. Ugh! 


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