Thursday, April 09, 2009

Out of the Black Site Business

What better way to celebrate the second night of Passover, and the eve of Good Friday, than with Leon Panetta, director of the Central Intelligence Agency's, news that his agency is "no longer" in the black site business, and that all remaining clandestine detention centers will be shut down. The order to close the secret sites comes from the top, President Barack Obama.

Hats off to Obama, too, for his latest speech on nuclear non-proliferation and, especially, for emphasizing that a world without nuclear weapons isn't going to happen anytime soon. Isn't it refreshing to have someone in the White House who doesn't like to lie.

Too bad North Korea leader Kim Jong had other plans for the weekend than to listen to Mr. Obama's press conference, but his rocket test surely didn't come as a surprise to anyone. While a former president, George W. Bush, was busy chasing Saddam Hussein, and introducing Al Qaeda to Iraq, Kim Jong had just enough time to explore those weapons of mass destruction we never did find in Baghdad.

Importantly, too, the Obama administration is making a stunning departure from that of their predecessors in agreeing to join the United Nations, and hold talks with Iran on their nuclear enrichment program. This, combined with Sy Hersh's revelations about Obama's openness to dialogue with Syria, and a sea change from militarism to diplomacy, shows that anyone who thinks foreign policy, for the next four years, will be a rerun of the Bush years is flat out wrong.

Of course, the obvious exception to the Obama administration's emphasis on diplomacy is the egregious escalation of troops in Afghanistan, and the threat of a military cauldron in Pakistan, as well, especially given Pakistan's role in arming the Taliban.

So, when he considers Afghanistan, we are confident that Obama will consider the wise words of another former President, John F. Kennedy, who said: "an error doesn't have to become a mistake unless we refuse to correct it."

It's good to know that this country is no longer in the business of building secret holding cells where detainees are waterboarded and otherwise tortured, but the time has come for the U.S. to get out of the war business altogether, and look to prosper from peace.