Archive for Tuesday, February 14, 2006

White House defends 24-hour delay in reporting shooting

February 14, 2006


The White House blamed the 78-year-old man whom Vice President Dick Cheney shot during a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas for the incident, as officials struggled Monday to explain why they waited nearly 24 hours before making the news public.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan tried to absolve Cheney of blame for shooting wealthy Austin lawyer Harry Whittington, saying that hunting "protocol was not followed by Mr. Whittington when it came to notifying others that he was there. And so, you know, unfortunately, these types of hunting accidents happen from time to time."

Several hunting experts were skeptical of McClellan's explanation. They said Cheney might have violated a cardinal rule of hunting: Know your surroundings before you pull the trigger.

"Particularly identify the game that you are shooting and particularly identify your surroundings, that it's safe to shoot," said Mark Birkhauser, the incoming president of the International Hunter Education Assn.

Safe-hunting rules published by the National Rifle Assn. and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department echo Birkhauser's advice.

Whittington was listed in stable condition Monday at a hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas, with birdshot wounds to his face, neck and chest. The shooting occurred about 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Armstrong Ranch, a 50,000-acre spread in south Texas.

White House and Texas law enforcement officials haven't provided a detailed account of the incident. Katherine Armstrong, one of the ranch's owners, said Cheney, Whittington and another hunter got out of their vehicle to shoot a covey of quail. The third member of the hunting party was the U.S. ambassador to Switzerland, Pamela Willeford.

Though the shooting happened Saturday afternoon, it didn't become public knowledge until Armstrong notified the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, her local paper, at midday Sunday. The White House then confirmed news media requests for verification.

The lag between the shooting and the reporting of it prompted questions about why a private citizen, not the government, was disclosing a shooting involving the vice president.

McClellan said Monday that Cheney's staff didn't immediately inform the media because the first priority was tending to Whittington's health.

McClellan said White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove told Bush around 8 p.m. Saturday that Cheney had shot Whittington, but McClellan said he himself didn't learn that Cheney was the shooter until around 6 a.m. Sunday. He said he urged Cheney's office to get the information out as quickly as possible. The news broke nationally about 2:45 p.m. CST Sunday.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 4 months ago

"They said Cheney might have violated a cardinal rule of hunting: Know your surroundings before you pull the trigger."

A manly man like Cheney shoots first, and then shoots some more. Just like in Iraq.

They'd have never reported this if they could have got away with it.

Linda Endicott 12 years, 4 months ago

Well, isn't this a classic case of blaming the victim?

I heard on TV that originally they didn't report it because they thought it was no big deal, that the man only had superficial wounds.

When was the last time you were in ICU for two days for superficial wounds?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 4 months ago

I've heard that Cheney didn't have the proper hunting licenses/stamps, but if that's the case, I'm sure that's not a problem for someone who's above the law.

mefirst 12 years, 4 months ago

Typical Bush/.Cheney....shoot someone in the face, then place the blame on them. Don't worry though, Mr. VP, your loyal supporters will continue to defend you, no matter what.

Jamesaust 12 years, 4 months ago

The Daily Show: "Jon, tonight the vice president is standing by his decision to shoot Harry Wittington. According to the best intelligence available, there were quail hidden in the brush. Everyone believed at the time there were quail in the brush.

"And while the quail turned out to be a 78-year-old man, even knowing that today, Mr. Cheney insists he still would have shot Mr. Whittington in the face. He believes the world is a better place for his spreading buckshot throughout the entire region of Mr. Whittington's face."

mefirst 12 years, 4 months ago

Gotta love Jon Stewart!!! I liked Jimmy Kimmel's line too...we're going to have at least 6 more weeks of winter. How do we know? Cheney came out of his hole and shot someone in the face.

I can't help but laugh...hysterically.

mefirst 12 years, 4 months ago

The victim just recently had a "minor" heart attack.

lunacydetector 12 years, 4 months ago

at least with kennnedy you'd have to suffer by drowning, then wait for him to take a ferry ride home then wait even longer before it was reported to authorities to get help, THEN the press was notified.

the press was notified, just not the washington press. boo-hoo.

Linda Endicott 12 years, 4 months ago

It doesn't sound like Cheney followed hunting protocol, either.

Linda Endicott 12 years, 4 months ago

At least Cheney isn't blaming the victim. He took responsibility for the accident...eventually.

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