Kenneth Starr

August 26, 1998
Over the last few weeks it's been hard to know who's been on trial: President Bill Clinton or Judge Kenneth Starr. The independent counsel has been accused of everything from partisan politics to dragging out the investigation. Perhaps it's time to look back at a previous independent counsel to get some perspective here.

The most famous of all independent counsels was Lawrence Walsh, whose Iran/Contra investigation ranks as the most expensive investigation ever. It was also the most partisan. Democrats used it to slow advances in the Reagan and Bush administration from 1987 to 1992. And it ended with very little success, that is if you count indictments or convictions.

Lawrence Walsh was, however, successful in electing Bill Clinton. Five days before the 1992 elections, when George Bush was pulling even in the polls with Bill Clinton, Mr. Walsh's office indicted five former Reagan and Bush officials. That pre-election bombshell probably cost George Bush the election.

During the 12 years of Reagan/Bush, there were a total of 11 independent counsels. Seven prosecutors weren't even able to muster an indictment, and eight never got a conviction that held up. During the Clinton administration, 7 have been appointed. One prosecutor got nothing. One closed shop after the death of then-Commerce Secretary Ron Brown. Two just started work. Of the three remaining, all have secured indictments and convictions.

So what about the charge that Ken Starr is going slow? Well, that might be due to the fact that Attorney General Janet Reno's Justice Department has interfered at every turn. And what about the frivolous legal hurdles put up by the Clinton White House and routinely set aside by the Supreme Court? That would slow any investigation.

We'll have to wait for Ken Starr's report to Congress before we can give him a final grade. But so far, I think the mid-term exams look pretty good.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.

© 1998 Probe Ministries International