By Michael Castellano
Vice President Dick Cheney, believed by many to be the defacto President of the United States, shot and seriously wounded attorney Harry Whittington while allegedly hunting quail on the Texas ranch of Katharine Armstrong. Ms. Armstrong is reportedly a long time friend and confident of Mr. Cheney.
Mr. Whittington (right) was still in intensive care 48 hours after the shooting. He suffered numerous bird shot wounds in the neck, chest, and back from the 28-gauge Perazzi shotgun wielded by the vice president. Whittington is a prominent senior Texas Republican who served as chairman of the state Board of Corrections from 1979 to 1985. In 1999, then-Gov. George W. Bush appointed him to the scandal-ridden State Funeral Services Commission.
Not That Quayle
Not suprisingly, Cheney's office expected a cowed press core and a post 9/11 public to believe that it was perfectly reasonable that he would leave the task of releasing information on the shooting incident to a private citizen. As Ms. Armstrong later told the Associated Press, "I said, Mr. Vice President, this is going to be public, and I'm comfortable going to the hometown newspaper. . . and he said, you go ahead and do whatever you are comfortable doing."
The police investigating the shooting have already stated on the record that the shooting was an accident, which is highly irregular for an investigation less that three days old that hasn't even interviewed the shooter or the victim. Said one unnamed Kenedy County police official, "If the guy can get away with starting an unprovoked war based on a series of lies that takes tens of thousands of lives and costs the country a trillon dollars, who are we to investigate him for shooting at one washed up old attorney?"
However, while the police seem to be comfortable with Cheney shooting Whittington, wildlife officials did not appear to be too thrilled with Cheney shooting quails. They claim that while Cheney had purchased a valid non-resident hunting license, he did not obtain the required "upland game bird stamp." A spokesperson announced that Cheney would receive a warning citation, although it apparently carries no fine or penalty.
McClellan Stonewalls Reporters
McClellan also refused to say precisely when the president was informed of the shooting, or when he learned that the shooter was Mr. Cheney. According to McClellan, he and Bush were first told there was a shooting involving Cheney's hunting party, and only later were told that Cheney had been the shooter. No explanation was offered as to why President Bush was not immediately informed that Mr. Cheney had shot somebody, or how they could have been notified that there was a "shooting accident" and not also be immediately advised that Mr. Cheney was the shooter. (Video of McClellan's Press Conference -- a must watch!)
When questioned about why the Vice President would request that a private citizen release information of such importance a full day after the incident, he deferred an answer to the Vice President's office. In fact, McClellan deferred responses to questions to Cheney's office more than a dozen times. Including one reporter who asked if McClellan had heard reports that Ms. Armstrong went forward with releasing the information on her own the next day without any request to do so from Cheney.
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