Is Obama serious about declassifying 'dirty war' docs?

(CNN) Leading up to President Barack Obama's historic trip to Argentina this week, his administration dropped a mini-bombshell: The U.S. government would begin declassifying documents related to Argentina's "dirty war," the period between 1976 and 1983 when more than 20,000 citizens—known as "the missing" ("desaparecidos" in Spanish)—were secretly detained and tortured and murdered, their bodies never recovered.

Visiting Argentina on the 40th anniversary of the March 24, 1976, military coup that marked the beginning of that period was a political gamble—much less perhaps than his journey to the Castros' Havana—but a gamble nonetheless.

It was a watershed moment in a relationship that has been fraught for decades, in part because of a disturbing narrative of collusion between U.S. intelligence agencies and the Argentine military establishment which carried out the killings. Whether the narrative is true or not is almost incidental to its overwhelming power in Argentine society.

As so often happens in diplomacy, Obama was forced to strike a delicate balance on this trip.

For example, accusations of the involvement of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger loom large in the dirty-war narrative, though Kissinger has denied them.

And yet, in public speeches Obama steered clear of mentioning Kissinger or addressing his alleged role. His silence on the subject was deafening.

But Obama also extolled certain Americans who took huge risks to expose the atrocities of the dirty war. Obama praised Patt Derian, the assistant secretary of state for human rights under President Jimmy Carter -- who raised the alarm inside the State Department -- and Tex Harris, the courageous U.S. Embassy officer who documented human rights abuses and identified the missing. The President should be commended for recognizing these heroes.

As a whole, the trip was exactly what Obama does best: From dancing the tango and drinking mate tea to giving a moving tribute to the victims of the dirty war, Obama basked in applause from an Argentine public often critical of American policy, and a new pro-free market, pro-U.S. government...

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