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My take on the Panetta nomination - and why it is such a huge step forward inn fighting the war. It is vital, in my view, that both parties are equally invested in conducting and winning the war against Jihadist terror; and essential that a clear public standard of decent prisoner treatment is restored. There is much we will never know about intelligence and interrogation - that is the nature of war. But that necessary secrecy makes public trust all the more necessary. In my judgment, president-elect Obama has done all that anyone could currently ask for in restoring it:

Panetta may soon find out more than the rest of us will ever know about the CIA’s activities in the Bush-Cheney years. And nobody doubts he is a centrist and patriot who genuinely wants to ensure the safety of Americans and has no intention of doing anything but bring the best out of a demoralised espionage service. He may make difficult moral decisions in the years ahead and may fail in a difficult job. But what he has that is indispensable right now is an understanding that humane and decent treatment of all prisoners in war-time is critical to winning the intelligence war and winning it the right way.

With him in place and with Obama in the White House, we now have something very, very precious back in the government of America. It’s called trust and lawfulness.

(Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty.)

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