Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott made news this weekend after publicly stating he thinks Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr should quickly wrap up his investigation into alleged misdeeds by President Clinton and his associates. Lott also said Congress might consider censuring Clinton if Starr uncovered evidence of wrongdoing not serious enough to warrant impeachment proceedings.
Lott stated what many Americans feel – the Starr investigation has gone on far too long without results. But those who argue Starr should tell the American people what he has uncovered and its seriousness miss the point of our judicial system and of the Independent Counsel Act.
The Starr inquiry by law is supposed to remain confidential and free from political bias. While many argue that neither of these standards are being upheld, the fact remains that barring intervention by Attorney General Janet Reno, the only one who will decide when the investigation is over is Starr himself. It is his duty to ensure the proceedings are conducted in a just and professional manner.
Justice is not determined by public opinion polls or the sentiments of congressional leaders. Truth is found after a long search among an avalanche of lies and half-truths. As a professional, Starr is expected to remain focused on the issues and remain free from partisan bias. The American people must be patient for the truth to be found – and Starr should not impair the credibility of his own investigation by dragging it on unnecessarily. But rushed, partial justice is no substitute for complete justice.