There is a lot of talk flying around about bipartisan reform efforts resulting in once-unlikely names popping up in cabinet posts or otherwise filling high-level positions. With so many pundits making so many recommendations, I am surprised that one name has not appeared in what, to me, is the most obvious place. Therefore, I would like to make a proposal:
What better way to demonstrate that a new spirit is operating in Washington than to appoint one's former rival to a high office? No, I'm not speaking of Senator Clinton for Secretary of State. I'm thinking of an institution that is in urgent need of reform: intelligence.
The ways in which American intelligence is gathered--i.e. torture--has done more to tarnish our image than any other single factor over the last eight years, including the invasion of Iraq. Images and anecdotes of American soldiers and spies using techniques that reduce men to mere shadows of their former selves even when they do not destroy them will haunt this country at home and abroad for years to come. In order to not only combat this perception, but obliterate the possibility of it ever happening again, I believe that, once in office, the President-elect should form a commission whose sole purpose will be to investigate and reform the methods by which intelligence is gathered and that he should place John McCain at its head.
This would have many desirable effects, not the least of which would be to put one of the most vocal opponents of torture at the head of an effort to remove "enhanced interrogation techniques" from the toolkit of the American military, the FBI and the CIA forever. John McCain has the character, the charisma and the moral authority to accomplish this task--without risking any accusations of being "soft on terrorism." It would go a long way in proving that an Obama-Biden administration could truly "reach across the aisle," quieting many of its skeptics while at the same time reassuring the many moderates who will continue to be a vital part of any electoral strategy come 2012. Finally, it would further heal the deep divisions--divisions that Republican political strategy has exacerbated--to see the former Republican candidate placed in a position of power commensurate with his service and his personal experience.
Appointing John McCain head of a panel to study and reform intelligence and cease enhanced interrogation would rather neatly ensure real reform in intelligence gathering thereby raising our esteem in the rest of the world, demonstrate bipartisanship and create the political unification that an Obama presidency represents. Just think of all the people who voted for McCain and how they would feel about a president who would bestow upon him such an important task. How much more invested in that task would they would then be?
We are morally obligated to alter the course of the war on terror and fundamentally transform its tactics, but in doing so, we must also reassure the nation that this transformation is for the best. John McCain could be that reassurance.