[DEBATE] : Trigger-happy Dick Cheney shoots old friend (no kidding!)
vallys at epu.wits.ac.za
Thu Feb 16 09:54:17 GMT 2006
On February 11, 2006, Cheney accidentally shot Harry Whittington, a prominent Texas attorney, in the face, neck, and upper torso with an Italian-made Perazzi 28-gauge shotgun, loaded with lead number 7 1/2 birdshot, at a range of 30 yards, while hunting quail. Whittington suffered a "minor heart attack" and atrial fibrillation on Valentine's Day (February 14th, 2006) due to the shot pellets lodged in or near his heart .
While the accident occurred on Saturday, February 11, the news of it was not released until after 2:00 PM Eastern Standard Time on Sunday, February 12. Beth Francesco, a reporter for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, broke the story after receiving a call from Katharine Armstrong, the owner of the ranch where the shooting occurred .
CBS News also reports that local law enforcement officers were initially barred by Secret Service agents from interviewing Cheney.  The Kenedy County Sheriff's office has since cleared Cheney of any criminal wrongdoing in the matter . However, the Kleberg County District Attorney, Carlos Valdez, who has jurisdiction in the matter, announced on February 14 that if Whittington dies, it will most likely result in a grand jury investigation. Recently, ranch owner Katherine Armstrong was quoted as saying, "There may be a beer or two in there, but remember not everyone in the party was shooting."  In an interview with Brit Hume on February 15, 2006, Cheney admitted drinking one beer on the day of the incident . The press release from the Kenedy County Sherrif's office (released prior to Cheney's interview) stated that their "investigation reveal(ed) that there was no alcohol... involved in the incident."
While he has a Texas non-resident hunting license, a report from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department states that Cheney was in violation of Texas law in that he did not have a US $7 "upland game bird stamp." A warning citation, which state officials described as routine and carries no fine or penalty, will be issued to Cheney, because the requirement is new. Cheney has since sent a $7 check to the Texas Fish and Wildlife Department to cover the cost of the missing stamp.
Dick Cheney is the first known Vice President to shoot someone while in office since Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton in the famous Hamilton-Burr duel; in both incidents the person shot was a prominent attorney. Ironically, Howard Dean while on CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday February 12 compared Dick Cheney to Aaron Burr in response to the story that I. Lewis Scooter Libby is reported to have claimed that superiors have authorized him to "leak" classified information in the Plame affair. There is no indication that Dean knew of the incident in making the Burr reference. Also, in the February 15, 2006 interview with Brit Hume, the following was said:
a.. Cheney: "We've had experiences where the President has been shot; we've never had a situation where the Vice President shot somebody."
b.. Hume: "Not since Aaron Burr."
c.. Cheney: "Not since Aaron Burr --"
d.. Hume: "Different circumstances"
e.. Cheney: "Different circumstances."
In another interview with Fox News, Cheney accepted full responsibility for the incident:"Ultimately I'm the guy who pulled the trigger that fired the round that hit Harry, I'm the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend, and that's something I'll never forget."
The incident has made Cheney the target of jokes and public ridicule.. The Daily Show proclaimed "Cheney's Got a Gun" in parody of Aerosmith's song "Janie's Got a Gun."
A few in the media have began analyzing the possible permutations. Maureen Dowd of the New York Times wrote in her op-ed  piece that in the unfortunate event of Mr. Whittington no being able to survive, his death could trigger a more thorough police investigation and possibly a grand jury. In such an event Cheney could resign paving the way for Condoleezza Rice to step in as vice-president .
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