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    Feb 2005
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    Cheney urged to come forward on shooting

    What is the guy going to say? "I'm an old idiot who can't remember basic Hunter Safety 101"?
    ************************************************** *****

    Top Democrats urge Cheney come forward on shooting

    By Steve Holland
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Dick Cheney should publicly explain his shooting of a Texas lawyer in a hunting accident, top congressional Democrats said on Wednesday after a White House meeting that included Cheney.

    Cheney has been publicly silent since he sprayed Harry Whittington with birdshot during a quail-hunting trip to Texas last Saturday.

    Whittington, 78, suffered a minor heart attack on Tuesday when some of the birdshot lodged near his heart. He was in stable condition on Wednesday in the intensive care unit at Christus Spohn Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas, a hospital spokeswoman said.

    Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, and California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the top-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, emerged from a breakfast meeting with President George W. Bush and Cheney to say the vice president needed to come forward.

    "I guess I'm kind of old-fashioned," Reid said. "He hasn't had a press conference in three and a half years."

    Said Pelosi: "Open government demands that the vice president come clean with what happened ... There's probably a very simple answer to it, but we have to break this habit of the administration, of closed government without the openness that is healthy to a democracy."

    They said they did not tell Cheney to his face that he should come forward and that the vice president said little during the breakfast.

    A number of Bush's fellow Republicans have been urging Cheney to come forward as well. The vice president's press office had no comment on whether he would make a statement, but top White House aides were believed to be discussing whether he should do so.

    "I think Cheney operates in his own world and really doesn't care what the press and the public think about him because he's serving the president. But in this case, this strategy is beginning to damage the president," said a prominent Republican in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    Cheney's office issued a statement on Tuesday saying the vice president had spoken with Whittington by telephone, wished him well and asked if he needed anything.

    Cheney is scheduled to speak on Friday in his home state of Wyoming to the state legislature's 2006 budget session in Cheyenne.

    Whittington, a Republican stalwart and lawyer in Texas, was struck by up to 200 pellets when Cheney, hunting on a south Texas ranch, reportedly whirled around to fire at a covey of quail and hit Whittington instead.

    REPERCUSSIONS

    Whittington's health could determine whether the shooting has any real repercussions.

    His doctors have been optimistic about his recovery, but said he must stay in the hospital another week to make sure more birdshot does not migrate to a dangerous place.

    They said it was unlikely they would try to remove the pellets because surgery, particularly if it involved the heart, could be more dangerous than leaving the pellets in.

    So far, local authorities have said the shooting was simply an accident with no misconduct involved.

    But if Whittington were to die, local district attorney Carlos Valdez said there could be a more-thorough investigation, including possibly a grand jury probe that might end up issuing criminal charges.

    (Additional reporting by Jeff Franks in Corpus Christi, Texas)

    © Reuters 2006
    Last edited by sojustask; 02-15-2006 at 04:55 PM.

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