Predictably, the Wall Street Journal screamed "character assassination" in its editorial comment on this week's guilty plea by Elliott Abrams, one of the Reagan administration's fiercest ideological warriors. Abrams pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of withholding information from Congress about secret administration efforts to aid the Nicaraguan contras. He also agreed to cooperate with the independent prosecutor, Lawrence Walsh, in his probe of the Iran-contra scandal and other high-level wrongdoing during the Reagan administration.
Critics of the investigation note that the charges against Abrams are "only" misdemeanors, but they are still relentless in their criticism of the length and expense of Walsh's efforts. What they fail to mention, of course, is that the Bush administration has done its best to slow him down. Ironically, Abrams' cooperation, along with an earlier guilty plea by former CIA official Alan Fiers, may speed up the process considerably.