The preemptive cries of partisanship and hysteria that the Republican minority has raised about the majority report of the congressional Iran--Contra investigating committees turn out, with the publication of that report, to be more than a little partisan and hysterical in their own right. The committees' conclusions, in which three Republican senators joined all of the participating Democrats, can be fairly seen to flow naturally and incontestably from the evidence the hearings produced. In the end the report adds little to what was already known. The tale does not, however, become any less sordid in the retelling.
The scandal broke little more than a year ago. What continues to boggle the mind, long after all the rationalizations have been heard and half-forgotten, is how supposedly experienced men at the pinnacle of government fell for the incredible idea that hitherto undetected Iranian "moderates" were panting after a deal to exchange American arms for American hostages. To believe such a thing was stupid on its face. To pursue this belief through labyrinthine dealings with a rogue's gallery of hustlers, cutouts and tricksters was irresponsible as well as illegal. The irresponsibility came in the betrayal of American principles and foreign policy interests that this scheme required, not least in rushing to pay ransom for hostages. The illegality came from lying to Congress, from misappropriating money that properly belonged to the Treasury,from diverting funds to the support of the Contras, from violating restrictions on the exports of arms.