Has Douglas Kmiec been muzzled?

by Joe Ferullo

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He was one of President Obama's earliest supporters among the Catholic intellectual community -- but Douglas Kmiec now finds himself in a battle with Obama's State Department.

According to columnist Tim Rutten in The Los Angeles Times, Kmiec has been muzzled in his role as Ambassador to Malta. He's done an impressive job by all accounts, strengthening ties with a strategically important and conservatively Cathoic country.

But the problem is, apparently, Kmiec's faith -- or at least his desire to "go public" about his faith.

Kmiec, a former dean of the Catholic University of America law school, argues that one key reason he was brought into the administration by Obama was so that he could continue his work promoting interfaith initiatives. But the diplomatic bureaucracy has its rules, yes it does -- and has demanded Kmiec stop all "outside writings."

According to Rutten, the State Department even heavily edited a memorial piece he wrote upon his father's death for the Jesuit magazine America.

Obama worked long and hard during the 2008 campaign to show himself a friend of the faithful -- and break the Democratic image of a party hostile to believers. Kmiec's support was an important part of that push.

Obama now needs to step in, along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and support the man who has supported them. And there is a larger question at play here, too: does becoming a diplomat mean turning in your rights to free speech and religion?

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