CHENEY: Oh, probably 10 people. We weren't all together, but about 10 guests at the ranch. There were three of us who had gotten out of the vehicle and walked up on a covey of quail that had been pointed by the dogs. Covey is flushed, we've shot, and each of us got a bird. Harry couldn't find his, it had gone down in some deep cover, and so he went off to look for it. The other hunter and I then turned and walked about a hundred yards in another direction --
HUME: Away from him?
CHENEY: Away from him -- where another covey had been spotted by an outrider. I was on the far right --
HUME: There was just two of you then?
CHENEY: Just two of us at that point. The guide or outrider between us, and of course, there's this entourage behind us, all the cars and so forth that follow me around when I'm out there -- but bird flushed and went to my right, off to the west. I turned and shot at the bird, and at that second, saw Harry standing there. Didn't know he was there --
HUME: You had pulled the trigger and you saw him?
CHENEY: Well, I saw him fall, basically. It had happened so fast.
HUME: What was he wearing?
CHENEY: He was dressed in orange, he was dressed properly, but he was also -- there was a little bit of a gully there, so he was down a little ways before land level, although I could see the upper part of his body when -- I didn't see it at the time I shot, until after I'd fired. And the sun was directly behind him -- that affected the vision, too, I'm sure.
But the image of him falling is something I'll never be able to get out of my mind. I fired, and there's Harry falling. And it was, I'd have to say, one of the worst days of my life, at that moment.
HUME: Then what?
CHENEY: Well, we went over to him, obviously, right away --
HUME: How far away from you was he?
CHENEY: I'm guessing about 30 yards, which was a good thing. If he'd been closer, obviously, the damage from the shot would have been greater.
HUME: Now, is it clear that -- he had caught part of the shot, is that right?
CHENEY: -- part of the shot. He was struck in the right side of his face, his neck and his upper torso on the right side of his body.
CHENEY: Well, I still do. I still think that the accuracy was enormously important. I had no press person with me, I didn't have any press people with me. I was there on a private weekend with friends on a private ranch. In terms of who I would contact to have somebody who would understand what we're even talking about, the first person that we talked with at one point, when Katherine first called the desk to get hold of a reporter didn't know the difference between a bullet and a shotgun -- a rifle bullet and a shotgun. And there are a lot of basic important parts of the story that required some degree of understanding. And so we were confident that Katherine was the right one, especially because she was an eye-witness and she could speak authoritatively on it. She probably knew better than I did what had happened since I'd only seen one piece of it.So Cheney followed this bird though about a 120° arc and fired after the weapon's muzzle had passed Mr. Whittington. If Mr. Whittington was in a depression with only his upper body exposed, then Cheney was shooting into the cover having been blinded by the sun.
The handling of the situation also raised questions about whether Cheney had been drinking at the time of the shooting, about 5:50 p.m. Cheney told Fox he had had a beer at lunch, but the hunt did not begin until "sometime after 3 p.m."Miss Armstrong's reporting on alcohol consumption is moving about like a flushed quail. I would think she could recognize a beer can when it's being held by the Vice President, or perhaps beer doesn't count.
"The five of us who were in that party were together all afternoon. Nobody was drinking, nobody was under the influence," he said.
The Kenedy County Sheriff's Department, which interviewed Cheney about the accident Sunday morning, concluded there was "no alcohol or misconduct involved in the incident." A state game warden gave Cheney a warning for hunting without a required stamp on his license, for which the vice president's office later submitted payment.
Armstrong, a longtime friend of the Cheney family, told CNN before the vice president's interview that she never saw Cheney or Whittington "drink at all on the day of the shooting until after the accident occurred, when the vice president fixed himself a cocktail back at the house."
bryan at dumka dot com
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