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April 11th, 2011
04:13 PM ET

U.S. ambassador faulted for faith writing and speaking

Douglas Kmiec, center, at a 2006 U.S. Senate hearing.

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - The U.S. ambassador to Malta has upset the State Department by devoting so much time to writing and speaking about faith-related issues, according to a report from the department’s inspector general released last week.

The ambassador, Douglas Kmiec, was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009 after Kmiec helped spearhead Obama’s outreach to Catholic voters in the 2008 presidential campaign.

“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 State Department’s Inspector General’s Office said of Kmiec in an inspection report on the Maltese embassy released Thursday.

“His approach has required Department principals, as well as some embassy staff, to spend an inordinate amount of time reviewing his writings, speeches and other initiatives,” the report continued.

“His official schedule has been uncharacteristically light for an ambassador at a post of this size,” it said, “and on average he spends several hours of each workday in the residence, much of which appears to be devoted to his nonofficial writings.”

The State Department report did not cite specific instances of Kmiec’s faith-related writings and appearances, but said that "his unconventional approach to his role as ambassador has created friction with principal officials in Washington, especially over his reluctance to accept their guidance and instructions."

The ambassador, a former dean of Catholic University of America's law school, wrote in June about his father’s death for America, a weekly Catholic magazine. In an op-ed last year for The Times of Malta, Kmiec said Malta could provide a model for Obama as he pushed for health care reform.

“During Lent, as we prayerfully await the visit of the Holy Father to this largely Catholic place, it is fascinating for this visitor to contemplate how much Malta adds to the world's better understanding of itself,” Kmiec wrote in the op-ed, which ran as Pope Benedict XVI prepared to visit the island nation.

Kmiec has given many interviews to Malta-based media in which he has emphasized his belief that faith can be a key part of international diplomacy and has stated his disagreement with Obama’s support for abortion rights.

“President Obama is not pro-life,” Kmiec told the Malta Independent in 2009, “and we disagreed from the first time we met.”

Kmiec served as a top lawyer in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush but endorsed Obama in 2008, largely because he said Obama was willing to explore opportunities for common ground with conservatives on divisive issues like abortion.

Kmiec did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Times of Malta reported Sunday that Kmiec has added another faith-based event to his calendar. He’ll be lecturing Thursday on “the necessity of religious freedom for the common good’s good” at the University of Malta.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Catholic Church • Politics

soundoff (340 Responses)
  1. Adam

    "Kmiec served as a top lawyer in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush but endorsed Obama in 2008, largely because he said Obama was willing to explore opportunities for common ground with conservatives on divisive issues like abortion."
    ====================

    Kmiec is dreaming if he thinks Obama, the most liberal politician in Washington, is going to fudge on his liberal ideals.

    April 12, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  2. Swamp Yankee

    I don't see any story here. Someones petty agenda though- only reason this is news.

    April 12, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  3. Evangeline

    Funny how this man and his appeal to faith was helpful to Obama when it was time to get elected, but now he is not required and therefore at fault for doing the same thing he did before.
    Hypocrisy? Yes. But I think certain people need to look in the mirror before they fling that word around.
    As for all of the wonderful self-proclaimed atheists that seem to think only they are right, you need to open your minds. Do you really think that believing in nothing makes you somehow superior? Believing in nothing is belief itself!

    April 12, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • windrider

      It comes down to what his job was then and what his job is now. He was a campaign worker in the past, and his religious skills were part of what got him the job. He worked for the campaign, and he was paid by the campaign. His job now is SECULAR and he works for the government; he is paid by the government to do a secular job. He was hired to be an ambassador, not an evangelist. He is being paid by taxpayers to be an ambassador, not an evangelist. And he's evangelizing on the taxpayer's dime. That is what's wrong with what he's doing.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  4. Jesus

    James,
    Stop the Blasphemy. Quit trying to make the rest of the Christians look like D bags.
    Thank you.

    -Jesus.

    April 12, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
  5. Cynic

    I am a Christian, but this country was a better place 40 years ago when any President claiming to hear from God would have been impeached for insanity.

    One of the greatest gifts God gave humankind was reason. I suggest that we exercise our reason more and our faith less.

    April 12, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  6. Descarado

    Ah, the politically correct fascists of the Obama regime at work! Let's celebrate at The Obama Victory Mosque at Ground Zero.

    April 12, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
  7. notsoquick

    James, et. el, If an ambassador was writing about Islam would you feel the same? I think not.
    Supports slaughter of the unborn? Explain to me how war or the death penalty supports life. You conservatives are not pro-life, you are only pro-some life.
    No abortion, no death penalty, no war; now that is pro-life.

    April 12, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • therm

      Very nice, but don't forget: No shooting people in the back of the head while they're sitting in church is pro-life too.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  8. irish man

    WHY ARE WE PAYING THIS GUY TO DO WORK ??? WHAT WORK DOES HE REALLY DO ??? WHAT A WASTE OF SPACE AND TAXPAYERS MONEY !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    April 12, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  9. irish man

    JESUS NEEDS TO GO DOWN ON ME. I AM GOING TO HEAVEN SOON !!!

    April 12, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • Rick

      Well, it IS blessed to come in his name...or whatever

      April 12, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  10. Lizzy Taylor

    I intensely dislike people of all faiths, but what I dislike even more is the attemtped censorship of a person's faith. They have the right to be wrong, just as much as those of us who stand in the right. If Obama does not like his fable writing about a God that exists in the minds of men only, then it is his fault for hiring the guy in the first place.

    April 12, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • windrider

      It's not his faith that is at issue. It's the fact that he's not doing his job. Instead of working on his ambassador duties, he's spending much of his time on personal religious activities and agendas. He's not being paid to proselytize, but that's how he seems to be spending most of his time. If I spent my time on the job writing poetry and fiction stories, I'd be fired. So should he.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  11. danny

    Sounds like he may be way to honest to serve Obama,

    April 12, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  12. Paul

    The position of "ambassador" is not given to career diplomats (those are the #2's). Ambassadors are usually selected as paybacks for large campaign contributions or other favors in both Democratic and Republican administrations. So the fact that we have an under-performing ambassador is not a huge surprise. It's really a wonder that any of them show up to work at all.

    April 12, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  13. Matt

    Wow, James speaks the "truth" above, eh? Looks like rambling BS to me. Obama is the "most evil" president ever, really? Because he supports a Supreme Court decision and a woman's right to chose what goes on inside her own body? Personally, I would put the President serving just before Obama as the "most evil" ever for his oil-based war of lies and all those that have lost their life as a result.

    Back to the actual story, this sounds like Waste, Fraud and Abuse, including improper labor charging and, in my experience, termination would be the result.

    April 12, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  14. Jack

    It sounds like religeous persecution to me. The Bill of Rights grants us freedom of speech and freedom of religeon. Moreover, if you're going to fault this man you're going to have to fault George Washington, the Father of our Country, too because Washington spoke more about faith than any president in our history AND you're going to have to most of his writings from our National Archives. No no. George Washington, who considered the use of profanity by any of his soldiers to be an act of treason, would have thrown this ignorant Inspector General, who is hostile to the only thing that will preserve our nation (i.e., seeking God in repentance) in jail as a traitor.

    April 12, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Silence Dogood

      G. Washington was also constantly pestered by the religious icons of his day who wanted him to just come out and declare the nation's religious persuation. He did not, believing faith is best kept to oneself.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Redleg

      Another Barton fantasist. Nice to know Patton was a Nazi tool. Are you not aware that after the Revolution Washington NEVER took communion?

      April 12, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • MerelyAmused

      Washington spoke about his faith AFTER leaving office. While in office, he steadfastly refused to allow a state religion (as was the norm for most countries back then and even now. Great Britain had a state religion and the new United States wanted to do everything possible NOT to emulate their former masters. The cussing thing was less about piety than about cohesion and discipline.

      Treason? For expecting a man to do what he is being PAID to do instead of what he wants to do? Even Jesus supposedly said "render unto Caesar" as a metaphor for doing what was expected on Earth and that includes doing one's job as required for one's boss here.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
  15. sumday

    are white house officials complaining about how much time he is spending on his writings? because from down here that sounds like the pot calling the kettle black seeing how much time and money that congress wastes.

    April 12, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Phil in Oregon

      -arguing about where they can waste the most money and get away with it...

      April 12, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • Kay

      You do realize that Congress and the White House are *not* the same thing, don't you? Or were you sick that day in school.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  16. Aaron

    I'm Christian, but if I went work and spent company time and company employees writing religious tracts, I'd be fired in a minute. The issue noted in this article arrives when people think they have a right to use their salaries funded by taxpayers to do personal business on taxpayer time. When they get censured for it, the religious fanatics scream prejudice, when there is no way they could get away with it in private businesses.

    April 12, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Quezz

      I would like to thank you for posting that this is about employee responsibility and not religion. That's what I got out of it despite the poster's best efforts.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  17. ymmitj

    JThomas,

    Reasons is correct. A scientific theory is not what the common person thinks of when the word "theory" is used. A scientific theory has evidence, observations, and analysis. This is not the same as a "guess" (i.e. theory). There is no real evidence of the existance of gods. The concept of gods was made up by early humans and maybe even pre-humans to explain and cope with the things they did not understand. Like thunder and lighting, metors, total solar eclipes, storms, earthquakes, volcanoes, death, etc. Unfortunately, religion then has be mindlessly passed down from generation to generation. It almost seems to be embedded in human nature. Religion still is used as a control/coping mechanism for life and death. The concept of no eternal life (after death) in paradise is a tough pill to swallow.

    April 12, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Mark B.

      Your assertions are simply not true. There is absolutely ZERO physical evidence of evolution or the big bang. What astrophysics, quantum physics, macro and micro biology point to is it is mathmatically much more likely that there is intelligent design than not. Likewise there is more proof of the life of Jesus than there is of Julius Caesar. It is up to us as individuals to answer these questions. Was Jesus a prophet, a liar, a teacher or the Son of God as he said? If he isn't the Son of God and YOUR Savior, then He would have to be just a lair, a charlatan. He talked of hell and eternal damnation as well. It is up to you
      to receive what He gives freely, even though we don't deserve it.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Kay

      Sorry, Mark B. – but there is ample physical evidence for both evolution and the big bang. And, no, intelligent design is *not* more likely mathematically. Try reading science, not faith-based pseudoscience, sometime.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • Balancing Christianity with Reason

      Forgot to mention: aren't there things even MODERN humans today can't explain? So, you debunk God and now science is your god to explain the unexplainable things we still don't know today? Isn't that a fallacy? At Mark B, excellent observation! Funny how math and science both have statistical probabilities and empirical data to back up the existence of a creator, yet vehement atheists (science-as-religionists) deny the evidence. lmao....they're just as dogmatic about what they believe as the believers in faith and God that they criticize. Open mind, my backside.....

      April 12, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • Ryan

      ymmitj – Kind of like students in schools across the nation aren't allowed to question the all-knowing, all-powerful Theory of Evolution? When they ask questions, they get suspended for disrupting the class. Up until the last fifty years, school was a place where people learned to think for themselves by asking questions, not by following mindless drivel laid down by some old guy fed up with religion because his daughter died. Teach science instead, like the Law of Gravity and the Law of Thermodynamics, not the factless, baseless Theory of Evolution (it's still a theory, not a law, in the eyes of true science). Also, for those who claim Atheism/Evolution isn't a religion because there's no big writing on it, what about the "Origin of Species" by one Charles Darwin? Also, there was an article on CNN recently about the publication of the Atheist's bible, called "The Good Book; A Collection of Humanist Teachings" by an Atheist, for Atheists.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'What astrophysics, quantum physics, macro and micro biology point to is it is mathmatically much more likely that there is intelligent design than not.'
      what total nonsense.

      As for 'it's still a theory, not a law, in the eyes of true science' is completely misunderstanding what term 'theory' means in the scientific arena.

      'Also, for those who claim Atheism/Evolution isn't a religion because there's no big writing on it, what about the "Origin of Species" by one Charles Darwin? '
      really? you want to claim a scientific text book equates to a book full of magic tricks and supernatural beings?

      April 12, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • Kyle

      Ryan – who the hell is getting suspended for asking questions in class?

      April 12, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • Steve

      There is no scientific evidence of a creator. If there is, please cite me the information. There is much scientific evidence of evolution. The people who wrote the Bible knew nothing of the Earth being round. They knew nothing of the cultures of the far east or American continents. Their little world revolved around the Mediterranean and Southwest Asia. The Bible is not a science book. They call the time when religion ruled "The Dark Ages". The age of enlightenment started when science began to prevail. Keep becoming enlightened, You will be able to discard the crutch of religion and save 10% of your hard earned money.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • ymmitj

      Balancing Christianity with Reason

      I whole-heartedly agree that there any many things that MODERN humans can not explain. We agree! But I don't make up myths and super-natural beings to plug that hole.

      "Funny how math and science both have statistical probabilities and empirical data to back up the existence of a creator"

      I have not seen any "statistical probabilities" or "empirical data" on the existence of a creator. Will you please point me to a reliable scientific study that has this data? If there is good scienticifc data and proof, I would gladly acknowledge the existance of a super-natural being. Thanks

      April 12, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • therm

      Christianity and Reason are mutually exclusive terms. You can't have one WITH the other, therefore they could never be "balanced".

      April 12, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Ryan

      @ Steve – There is evidence all around us for the Creator. The whole universe points to Him the same way a painting points to an artist. The complexity found in nature, the human body, the laws of physics, the atomic structure – it's all far too complex to have developed on its' own. How could blind chance produce a seeing eye? It's like a painting. When you look at the Mona Lisa, you don't think that it painted itself. There was someone controlling the brush and the color mixtures and the canvas texture. We know it's Leonardo da Vinci from the style, much as we know it would take an infinitely powerful and knowledgeable Being to create such complexity found in nature. There's physical evidence as well. Evolution states that man evolved from neanderthals, which evolved from primates, which evolved from lesser creatures, which came from primordial ooze, which nobody can really explain where that came from. And yet, there's no fossil evidence to support this. When we look at the fossil record, we find chimpanzees and human fossils in the same time period, with no transitional creatures above, below, or in the same strada. There are also no fossils that evidence what came between the ooze and primates. Instead, it shows that man and primates came about at the same time, in essence were created around the same time, which is exactly what the Bible states (only one day apart). This is just one example, though there are many more. Look into it in depth by writings from Ken Ham and Michael Behe (Behe's an Atheist, by the way). Even Darwin didn't believe Evolution after he looked closer at the mounting evidence against it, even in his time.

      April 12, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Ryan

      Kyle – People get suspended, at least in my area, for asking questions in physics and biology classes if they are contrary to the evolutionary theory. Questions such as "Where is the fossil evidence for the transitional stages from primate to neanderthal, or of the species that came before the primate?" Or, "What exploded when the big bang happened". Or "If humans came from apes, why do we still have apes? Why didn't they evolve?" Or "Why haven't sharks and fish evolved?". Instead of attempting to answer the questions, the teacher tells them to go to the principal's office until the class is over, where they are berated for disrupting class to the deficit of the other students and suspended for three days to a week. When this happened to multiple students here, a lawsuit was filed against the school for violation of the First Amendment rights of the students, but judgement was decided in favor of the school on the grounds that the First Amendment doesn't apply to students taking the class because they do so of their own free will (despite one of the classes being required to graduate). The parents of the children didn't have the funds to appeal and thus had to accept the judgement for the time being.

      April 12, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Dan

      I hope you don't say "eternal life is a tough pill to swallow" after you take your final breath on this earth. Because then, my friend, it will be to late.

      April 12, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      "there is more proof of the life of Jesus than there is of Julius Caesar." You couldn't be more wrong. Are you a small child or something?

      April 12, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      "Evolution states that man evolved from neanderthals, which evolved from primates, which evolved from lesser creatures, which came from primordial ooze, which nobody can really explain where that came from." That's a lie and you know it, but I guess christians can lie in god's service, right?

      April 12, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      "If humans came from apes, why do we still have apes? Why didn't they evolve?" It's hilarious that you nuts still think this is somehow a good argument instead of comedy gold. If you came from your parents, why are they still here? Why didn't your dad and mom die as soon as you were born? And why aren't you EXACTLY LIKE YOUR DAD? No wonder they sent you to the principal for disrupting class if that's all you had.

      April 12, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • kso

      @Ryan, you understand your argument well, but you don't have an understanding of the things in which you are arguing against.
      There's evidence, but your knowledge of it is lacking at best.

      here's your ooze and it's age, so read up:
      http://www.google.com/search?aq=0&oq=stromat&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=stromatolites
      when you're done with that, visit any natural history museum like the smithsonian and fill in the blanks.

      April 12, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • ymmitj

      Ryan,

      I'm sorry, but just because the Universe exists in all its' complexity, it does not prove the existence of a "Creator". The Universe has had billions of years to evolve and mutate. The concept of "someone" creating or perform great natural acts goes back to the early humans simple thought process and not understanding what was going on around them. In thier simple minds they could not understand, so it seemed logical to them that "someone" made the lightning strike or the volcano erupt. And it all went downhill after that....

      April 12, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  18. Carol

    Obama gives this man a position of power, and then the same man says he doesn't agree with his President because he does not wear the label of Pro-life. Obama gives too many people the benefit of doubt, and then gets kicked when he turns around, it seems. Seperation of Church and State, please.

    April 12, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Mark B.

      Just like recent Supreme Court appointee, Kagan, this man is influenced by his beliefs. We all are if we have any real beliefs.
      Separation of church and state does NOT mean one cannot serve the president AND his conscience. There would be no United States if this weren't true.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • WOBH

      I don't think it has anything to do with pro-life or pro-choice... but I'm sure many pro-lifers would love to make that the issue.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  19. Pundit

    Religious Fanatic or Man of Faith mixing personal and business this man serves at the pleasure of the President. If he is not performing to the Presidents satisfaction then he can be relieved. Taking speaking engagements in a field of speciality even if that is religion is not a crime on US soil of which this man is still protected by.

    April 12, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • A Human

      Indeed!

      April 12, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • therm

      Great, and now all of Malta thinks that the US is one, big catholic family. Maybe he should make no comments respecting an establishment of religion, so that we can all be happy with his rants, not just the catholics.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  20. tony

    Gravity is only a Theory of Physics., just like Evolution and Atomic Theory. But I haven't seen too many "People of Faith" floating off into Space, because it doesn't hold.

    April 12, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Phil in Oregon

      Gravitation is a LAW. Evolution is a THEORY. Big difference. While the adaptation of species to changing environmental situations is obvious, the idea that life just 'happened' one fine day is too much for even my scientific side to accept.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • therm

      Ah, Phil, evolution isn't a theory anymore, it's become a major principle of biology as it provides a coherent and unifying explanation for the history and diversity of life on Earth. Darwin had a theory, we have an explanation.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • therm

      Oh, and your "one fine day" was actually the first two billion years of this planets history. If it can't get done in two billion years, then maybe it won't. But it did!

      April 12, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • richunix

      Get it right it is the Science of Evolution NOT the fanatsy of a book written 2000 years agao...welcome to modern man...and hopefully it will bring out of the Dark-ages.....

      April 12, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • DavidMichael

      Phil, you might want to step into the 20th century (yes, 20th, I'm not THAT hopeful.) Theory in scientific terms is different from a cop saying "I have a theory." Einstein changed the wording from Law into Theory, so Theory of Gravity is equal to the Law of Gravity just as the Theory of Evolution is correct as Law of Evolution. You would need to pass 8th grade science to understand that.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • WOBH

      "the idea that life just 'happened' one fine day is too much for even my scientific side to accept."

      There is the fundamental problem with your understanding of evolution.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • Ryan

      @ richunix & therm – You can keep shouting all day long that Evolution is fact and not theory, but it's the same as going around all day saying you're a fish, not a human. Until scientists put up some real evidence for the Theory, just like they had to do for Gravity and Thermodynamics, it's still a theory.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • DavidMichael

      Phil,
      You also seem to be confused differentiating between Cosmology and Evolution. Evolution, which even you regard as obvious if just that, change over time. Cosmology is referring to the "big bang" it all just happened sort of thing. They are two distinct subjects. Your problem is not evolution but cosmology. Perhaps you might want to consider a few more science courses since you don't seem quite up to snuff on terminology.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • therm

      No, Ryan, there is plenty of evidence, boatloads of it all over the place and every day scientists are adding more to it. The problem is that science has accepted it because it explains everything about life on earth, and you've just got your eyes shut and refuse to look. That's what most delutionists do, bury the head to preserve the delusion.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • george busch

      Phil – you are not correct. Gravity is a theory. We know it exists, but can not prove how or why it is working – yet. There are several theories out there trying to explain gravity but nothing has been proven at this time. Several experiments are planned for CERN and the like and I am sure it will be proven eventually. Boy, you bring up religion and all the idiots appear with their hair-brained notions and ideas. Faith is a belief not based on proven facts, that is why it is called faith. Christianity is a faith you choose to believe in.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • therm

      Well said george busch, I was just preparing the same statement.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      In high school, when you get there, they will explain the difference between a theory and a Theory. But I won't bother to explain it to you now. It will give you something to look forward to.

      April 12, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • MerelyAmused

      Hey, Ryan, you can technically say you are a fish for at least the first portion of gestation. Look at a sharp ultrasound–human (and many other mammalian) fetuses have gill-like openings in their necks (to filter amniotic fluid for oxygen in the uterus) until well into gestation. As with vestigial tails, some human babies come into the world with the gills still open and require surgery to close them.

      April 12, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.