How the CIA Leak Story Plays Outside D.C.

The indictment of top vice presidential aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was big news in Washington, D.C., over the weekend — but how does the story play outside the Beltway? Jason DeRose travels to the town of Racine, Wisc., to gauge what residents there think about the indictment and the continuing scandal over the outing of a CIA agent's identity.

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NOAH ADAMS, host:

Former top White House aide, I. Lewis Libby, is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Thursday after being indicted by a grand jury last week. The indictment came after an investigation into the leak of the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame, and the indictment certainly created a lot of excitement in Washington, DC. We sent NPR's Jason DeRose far outside the Beltway to southern Wisconsin to see how people there are reacting.

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JASON DEROSE reporting:

At Borzinsky's Farm(ph) outside Racine, Wisconsin, a hayride through the cornfield costs a dollar. Pumpkins are 25 cents a pound.

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DEROSE: And for a quarter, you can get a handful of corn to feed to the sheep.

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DEROSE: On this warm, late October afternoon, Ann McCurtis Nessan(ph) from Kenosha, Wisconsin, and her little granddaughter Keely(ph) came out to choose a pumpkin for Halloween. Nessan, who's a retired administrator from a local community college, says she's very cynical about the whole Lewis Libby affair.

Ms. ANN McCURTIS NESSAN: More corruption going on and what's new? You know? Sooner or later, something surfaces--well, not just Washington but everywhere. It's just--after a while, I guess you don't get surprised about it.

Mr. JOHN KAVRANIS: Let's face it. There are lies on both sides here. And Libby is unfortunately symptomatic of the problems in Washington.

DEROSE: That's criminal defense attorney John Kavranis from Racine, Wisconsin. He and his family came to Borzinsky's Farm to buy apples. Kavranis says he finds it shameful that high-level officials such as Libby may have participated in a scheme to sabotage critics of the administration.

Mr. KAVRANIS: If, in fact, this is political retribution, it's a disgrace, and he should be prosecuted and he should be hung out to dry.

DEROSE: That's a sentiment echoed by medical doctor Ajik Parec(ph) from Franklin, Wisconsin. Parec says he's not particularly surprised by the allegations, but he's concerned some of the charges may be political payback on the part of the Democrats.

Dr. AJIK PAREC: Well, I think there's a national sentiment against the Bush government right now and you wonder how much of this is real and how much is this directed against Bush.

DEROSE: Still, if these charges do turn out to be true, Parec wishes he'd known about them earlier.

Dr. PAREC: One thing is why all of this came at this time.

DEROSE: Meaning that you wish it would have come earlier or later or....

Dr. PAREC: The timing. Why didn't it come before the elections?

DEROSE: The link between the indictment and the lead-up to the war in Iraq troubles Racine resident Ken Custer(ph) the most. He says he's not sure many of his friends and neighbors have begun to see that connection.

Mr. KEN CUSTER: A lot of young men getting killed and I don't know where it's all going to end. I don't know what could have been done different--if it never should have occurred or if it had to. I don't know how it's going to--I don't know. I just--it's not good.

DEROSE: Custer, who served during the Korean War, brought his grandchildren to Borzinsky's Farm to walk the corn maze. He doesn't want them to inherit this war.

Mr. CUSTER: I think of it every week--I guess maybe because I was in the military and thinking way back. So it's upsetting.

DEROSE: In Custer's opinion at least, the story of the CIA name leak could be as bad for the Bush administration as Watergate was for Nixon.

(Soundbite of sheep baaing)

DEROSE: Jason DeRose, NPR News.

ADAMS: Stay with us on DAY TO DAY from NPR News.

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