American Ambassador told to leave next month
Outgoing US Ambassador Douglas Kmiec has been asked to leave his post in Malta two-and-a-half months earlier than he had planned, and will therefore miss the July opening of the new embassy.
Prof. Kmiec resigned last week after being chastised by the US State Department for focusing too much energy on his religious beliefs. In a letter, he invited President Barack Obama to visit Malta and reaffirm his credentials, hinting that his resignation should not be accepted.
However, the State Department said his resignation had been accepted and asked him to leave on May 31 rather than August 15 – the date he had proposed to coincide with the Feast of the Assumption.
Prof. Kmiec, who writes an article in today’s paper complaining on “soulless secular censorship”, told The Sunday Times that the State Department felt it was “usual” for him to have a shorter notice period.
However, the current US ambassador to China, who resigned in February, reportedly to prepare a Republican presidential bid, was allowed to stay on for three months.
Such double standards could indicate there is more than meets the eye behind Prof. Kmiec’s departure.
In his article today, Prof. Kmiec expresses his disbelief about what happened and explores the apparent contradictions between the way he has been treated and the values professed by his country and its President.
He also questions whether Mr Obama had even accepted his resignation, saying this is still “unclear”.
Speaking to The Sunday Times yesterday, Prof. Kmiec said he was told his letter went to the Oval Office but it would have been unusual for the President to intervene or even asked whether to accept or not.
“Presumably, if the President, unlike the Inspector General, was happy with my work he could easily affirm with a letter, phone call, or even a brief mention in a speech,” Prof. Kmiec said, adding, however, that he had only heard from the State Department so far.
“Since so many days have passed already, it would appear that the State Department’s view is prevailing by default. I could be wrong. I hope I am.
“Whether I’m wrong or right I would still relish the opportunity to think it through with the President, and there’d be no better place to do that than Malta,” he said, holding on to the belief that his resignation was not yet a closed matter.
He also pointed out that those who took considerable personal risks in backing Mr Obama seemed not to be given reciprocal support when needed.
“But political friendships, of course, are not generally personal ones. One wag once said: ‘If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog’.”
In his article, Prof. Kmiec is careful not to admonish Mr Obama, and quotes a close White House aide as saying: “You cannot realistically expect the leader of the free world to stop everything to rescue you from bad guys”.
Prof. Kmiec also thanked the Maltese for their empathy and concern. Around 300 people have set up a Facebook group to “salute” Prof. Kmiec while just over 120 signed a petition to plead with Mr Obama to turn down his resignation.