UPDATES...Ranch Owner Hired Cheney at Halliburton, on Covert FISA Board Under Reagan, Bush Pioneer...
Incident Occurred Saturday, Not Released Until Moments Ago...HOSPITAL SPOKESMAN ON WHITTINGTON'S CONDITION...In Intensive Care Unit for 2nd Night in a Row...Eye-Witness/Media Continue to Downplay Incident...Victim in Intensive Care Unit for Second Night...Third Hunting Party Revealed as Bush Crony, U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland...
By John Gideon on 2/12/2006, 1:29pm PT  

This just out minutes ago from Associated Press...

WASHINGTON --- Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and injured a man during a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas, his spokeswoman said today.

Harry Whittington, 78, was "alert and doing fine" after Cheney sprayed Whittington with shotgun pellets on Saturday at the Armstrong Ranch in South Texas, said property owner Katharine Armstrong.

Armstrong said Cheney turned to shoot a bird and accidentally hit Whittington. She said Whittington was taken to Corpus Christi Memorial Hospital by ambulance.

Cheney's spokeswoman, Lea Anne McBride, said the vice president was with Whittington, a lawyer from Austin, and his wife at the hospital this afternoon.

UPDATE FROM BRAD: Several sources (Fox, CNN, Reuters) confirming incident, but reporting it took place yesterday (Saturday) at 5:30pm Texas time. Why was the story withheld from the media until now? Almost 24 hours later? The man is reported to be in stable condition, apparently, at this time. Did they wait until they could report that he would be fine before releasing it at all? Would we have found out about it at all, therefore, if the man had died? Did they wait until after it was too late to be discussed discussed on the Sunday News shows?

Just some of the questions I expect we'll be hearing shortly.

FURTHER UPDATES...

Cheney on hunting...

I much prefer to catch wild fish or chase wild quail in South Texas...and perfectly happy to adjust as required.

And I also care a lot about gun laws. I worry sometimes that there is a growing antihunting sentiment that I run into with people...people who have no idea what it's all about...have never done it and don't like the idea of somebody else doing it.

On the Armstrongs, on whose ranch the incident occurred, and their relation to Cheney et al...From WhiteHouseForSale.org...

"We go out when the dew is still on the grass, and then hunt until we shoot our limit," Tobin said in 2000 of his ranch outings with Dick Cheney. "Then we pick a fine spot and have a wild game picnic lunch." True conservatives might choke on their javelina steaks if they knew that Tobin Armstrong dunned the government for $11,336 in farm subsidies between 1995 and 2002, according to the Environmental Working Group. Anne Armstrong served as: a close advisor to President Nixon; President Ford's British Ambassador; and approved covert actions on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board under Reagan. A veteran of blue-chip corporate boards, Anne Armstrong was a Halliburton director when that corporation hired Cheney. She is Kay Bailey Hutchison's best friend...

Katherine Armstrong is the daughter of Anne, and was the one who witnessed the incident, quoted in the stories.

MORE... Shakespeare's Sister has details on Cheney's victim, Harry Whittington, and his long-standing crony-hood with Boy Bush...

DETAILS FROM HOSPITAL ON WHITTINGTON'S CONDITION... As Josh Marshall points out, details on Whittington's condition has so far only been reported by the property owner, Katharine Armstrong who has, by-and-large, downplayed the injury as no big deal.

CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital spokesperson, Yvonne Wheeler, tells The BRAD BLOG that the only information currently given to them by doctors is that Whittington is in "stable condition."

She's not able to say whether or not his condition has been worse previously when he was admitted to the facility at 8:15pm CT on Saturday, and then upgraded more recently.

News reports have said that Whittington was shot at 5:30pm CT, but Wheeler had no explanation for the apparent delay in his admission, other than she understands he was initially treated on-site. While the hospital is a two-hour drive from Armstrong's ranch, Whittington was transported to the facility by the hospital's own helicopter, so the reason for the apparent two-hour time-delay is still unclear.

No word yet on when Whittington may be released from the hospital.

Wheeler said that the media has requested a doctor there give a briefing on hunting accidents in general, and they will be doing so shortly.

We've so far been unable to receive comment from Cheney's office.

According to AP, Armstrong had said about the shooting:

"It broke the skin," she said of the shotgun pellets. "It knocked him silly. But he was fine. He was talking. His eyes were open. It didn't get in his eyes or anything like that."
...
"This is something that happens from time to time. You now, I've been peppered pretty well myself," said Armstrong.

THE LEFT COASTER POINTS OUT... That apparently it's all Whittington's own fault --- not Cheney's! --- that he got shot...At least according to Armstrong...

Whittington "came up from behind the vice president and the other hunter and didn't signal them or indicate to them or announce himself," Armstrong said.

"The vice president didn't see him," she continued. "The covey flushed and the vice president picked out a bird and was following it and shot. And by god, Harry was in the line of fire and got peppered pretty good."

BRAD BLOG commenter Bonnie reports...

At 7:00pm [ET] tonight CNN's anchor was interviewing a doctor from the hospital the shooting victim was in. The anchor asked him how the patient was doing and the doctor stated that he was in the Trauma ICU but stable. The anchor was then so dumb as to ask if the patient would be able to go home tonight. The doctor repeated that he was in ICU. This guys wounds did more than break the skin.

JAMES AND SARAH BRADY RELEASE COMMENT... And a hilarious one at that...

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 /U.S. Newswire/ --- James and Sarah Brady made comments today related to Vice President Cheney's reportedly accidental shooting yesterday in Texas.

"Now I understand why Dick Cheney keeps asking me to go hunting with him," said Jim Brady. "I had a friend once who accidentally shot pellets into his dog - and I thought he was an idiot."

"I've thought Cheney was scary for a long time," Sarah Brady said. "Now I know I was right to be nervous."

(Hat-tip Ron Brynaert!)

POLITICAL CORTEX summarizes nicely...

So, what we have is an event shrouded in secrecy for almost twenty-four hours which, when disclosed, was accompanied by a fawning statement by a Bush apparachik exonerating Cheney from any and all blame and/or liability.

Thus, this appears to be yet another example of the Bush Administration attempting to manipulate the press and perhaps hide the truth. What really happened on that ranch yesterday? Who the heck knows. What we do know is that, regardless of what actually happened, the Administration spin doctors immediately jumped in and crafted a story that put Cheney in the best possible light. And the "traditional media" reported that story without any skepticism whatsoever. Nevertheless, in light of the circumstances described above, this story from Ms. Armstrong is really no more credible than the stories we first heard from the Bushies about Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman.

Looks like just another day for the Bush White House and the pliant media.

EDITOR & PUBLISHER is now asking... What the delay was in notifying the public, and would the public have been notified at all if Armstrong hadn't released the information to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Apparently Bush, Card and Rove were informed on Saturday, as well, and didn't say a word and even the local police may not have been notified...

The Cheney spokesman [reporter Jaime] Powell spoke with, Lea Anne McBride, would not comment on whether the White House would have ever released the information had the Caller-Times not contacted them.

"I'm not going to speculate," McBride said, according to Powell. "When you put the call into me, I was able to confirm that account."
...
Francesco, at the Corpus Christi paper, said she felt it was a bit odd that her newsroom had not received any information about the shooting since "we often call law enforcement in area, even on weekends. We checked in and didn't hear anything about it."
...
Frank James, reporter in the Chicago Tribune's Washington bureau, put his how spin on it later in the day, asking, "How is it that Vice President Cheney can shoot a man, albeit accidentally, on Saturday during a hunting trip and the American public not be informed of it until today?"

Indeed, others raised questions as well. "There was no immediate reason given as to why the incident wasn't reported until Sunday," The Dallas Morning News observed. "The sheriff's office in Kenedy County did not respond to phone calls Sunday."
...
The president, who was at the White House over the weekend, was informed about the incident in Texas after it happened Saturday by Chief of Staff Andrew Card and Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and was updated on Sunday, press secretary Scott McClellan said.

But neither the White House nor the vice president's staff announced the shooting.
...
"When a vice president of the U.S. shoots a man under any circumstance," [Chicago Tribune's Frank] James noted, "that is extremely relevant information. What might be the excuse to justify not immediately making the incident public?

THE THIRD HUNTER IS REVEALED... by Ron Brynaert over at RAW STORY. It seems the U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland, Pamela Willeford, another Bush Family crony, was also along for the festivities. The revelation by the Cox News Service, has yet to be picked up by any publication. As reported by RAW...

Pamela Willeford, a former Texas education official, accompanied Cheney and Whittington as they hunted quail at the Armstrong ranch in Texas on Saturday.
...
According to Open Secrets, "Willeford and her immediate family contributed a total of $23,200 to Republicans during the 2000, 2002 and 2004 election cycles, including $7,000 to the Bush campaigns and an additional $500 to the Bush-Cheney recount fund established after the 2000 election."

No explanation yet, for the lack of coverage of the Willeford story, despite a couple of lede grafs which seem to us to be too good not to print!...

Just before sunset Saturday, 78-year-old Harry Whittington pulled off "a double" --- bringing down two quails with two successive blasts from his shotgun.

One of Whittington's hunting companions, Vice President Dick Cheney, wasn't as accurate.

BRAD BLOG's coverage of the Cheney Shooting story now continues here...