Few surprised by charges, some expect more


White House Indictment


To Michael McGill of Columbia, the law is the law, whether it applies to a rap star or a top White House aide.

"Perjury is against the law and he should get locked up for it. Lil' Kim got a year for lying in court under oath because she wouldn't snitch. If it's good enough for her, it's good enough for him," said McGill, 21, as he shopped at Columbia Mall.

McGill was among many Marylanders interviewed yesterday who had heard about the indictment in Washington of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who was vice presidential chief of staff.

According to a sampling of opinions in Baltimore and Columbia, few were surprised by the charges and few expect the investigation to stop with one indictment.

Some dismissed the case against the top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney as an inside-the-Beltway obsession, but many of those interviewed had been following coverage of special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald's investigation of the leak of the identity of an American intelligence agent.

Reactions to Libby's indictment on charges of perjury, false statements and obstruction of justice largely reflected Maryland's status as Democratic, one of the bluest of the blue states.

Frances Smith of West Baltimore, a union member who was wearing a "Justice for Janitors" cap in downtown Baltimore, said nothing would surprise her about the Bush administration.

"It seems like they can't be trusted. It seems like none of them can be trusted," Smith said.

Brent Weigelt, 28, of Fells Point, expects to see more indictments as Fitzgerald continues his investigation into the 2003 disclosure that Valerie Plame, wife of an administration critic, worked under cover for the Central Intelligence Agency.

"It's just going to get dragged out," he said.

Leslie Leader, 48, of Mount Washington is a Democrat who voted for President Bush in 2004. But she has become "really, really, really disappointed" by the administration and believes the charges against Libby are serious.

"I think he could potentially have endangered this woman's life," said Leader, who added that she expects to see more charges. "It's already in the vice president's office."

Even a pro-Bush Republican saw the charges as potentially damaging to the president.

"It's clearly something that will affect the administration over time," said Dennis Koehler, 57, of Columbia. "I think it's the pile-on effect - a lot of press and media attention."

But his 51-year-old wife, Cee, a Democrat, smiled sardonically when informed of the indictments by a reporter.

"It's interesting, all right," she said. "I hate George Bush, period."

michael.dresser@baltsun.com larry.carson@baltsun.com

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