Let Specter Investigate the Flotilla Mishap

Over the weekend, Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to Washington, rejected calls for an international investigation into his country's raid of the now-infamous flotilla headed for Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was less definitive on Sunday: "I told the United Nations secretary general that an investigation of the facts has to be carried out responsibly and objectively," he said.

In that case, I've got the perfect man for the job.

Arlen Specter.

Pennsylvania's longest serving United States senator is a brilliant mind and a man whose ethics are beyond reproach.

(He has been a friend for the better part of three decades, but I haven't broached the subject with him.)

All it takes is one quick review of his resume to know he's uniquely qualified to lead such a complicated investigation.

He's a former prosecutor; a staff member of the Warren Commission and author of the single-bullet theory; the razor-sharp cross-examiner of Anita Hill. He led inquiries into Randy Weaver's death at Ruby Ridge and the bombing of the Khobar Towers. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he navigated the political labyrinths that were the confirmation hearings for Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito. And he's Jewish.

Now he finds himself in the twilight of a long and illustrious Senate career. Come the end of the year, he's going to have time on his hands. No doubt he's already considering his next move.

Senator Specter will depart Washington with the investigatory skill he has honed for decades still intact. To know him is to appreciate his intelligence. Nothing gets by him. And he retains everything.

He has what any great investigator must possess - independence. In the Senate, policy matters to him. Not partisanship. Even the most passionate critic of his politics must acknowledge that much. He was a stem cell research advocate long before it gained popularity. He has always supported increasing the minimum wage and protecting civil liberties - again, even when it wasn't popular. Last year, he cast a difficult vote for the president's recovery program, knowing it would be highly divisive within the Republican Party. It ended up costing him his party affiliation.

What more can we ask for in a public servant than the willingness to cost yourself your job in order to advance what you believe is the common good?

Indeed, Senator Specter is the rare combination of intellect, ethics, experience, guts, and sheer will. His passion for truth far outweighs any partisan tendency. The flotilla raid has made for inflamed discourse in the days that have followed. A Specter-led investigation would be a welcome bridge over troubled waters.