Monday, January 05, 2009


Barack Obama's decision to select Leon Panetta to be the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency was as good as it gets. Panetta will not only add dignity, but moral decency to the position.

Yes, Panetta is an "unconventional" choice, a word Caroline Kennedy used to describe herself, but consider the corruption inherent in the more conventional options. Consider, too, where we are today as a result of decisions made by former CIA directors.

Maybe those prominent Democrats who oppose Obama's choice like Sen. Dianne Feinstein would prefer to resurrect what she calls "intelligence professionals" like George H.W. Bush? If so, then they should have voted with John McCain for another hundred years of war in Iraq.

It's up to the Senate to confirm him, of course, but given the former White House chief of staff's strong anti-torture stand, whether he makes it through the confirmation process or not, this is a clear signal of the direction in which the President-elect is going to take us, and a powerful statement against so-called "alternative" interrogation techniques of the Bush regime.

However the Panetta appointment plays out, the President-elect is showing us he will not play ball with the toxicity that tried to pass itself off as national security for the past eight years for which he gets an enthusiastic thumbs-up from anyone who wants to see a change from business as usual in the agency.