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The Law Stands... in the Way of No Powerful Man

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O! the bitter humor of the universe.

Bush&Co. lie to the American people and the world numerous times, out a covert CIA agent, grant no-bid contracts to corporations with which they have had personal business relations, don't follow up when those corporations bilk American taxpayers of hundreds of millions of dollars meant for the reconstruction in Iraq, pretend they don't know Jack Abramoff, etc, etc, etc" and what catches the media's ever reluctant eye?

Vice President Dick Cheney shot a rich lawyer buddy on a hunting trip over the weekend.

At first, this just seemed like another random moment in the new American bizarro world, and I was ready to move on to more important things. But over the span of three days, several disturbing pieces of information about the incident have been disclosed to the public.

First of all, let me throw out a few things that liberal bloggers have mentioned:

  • Hunters sometimes like to have a few drinks while they are hunting. Could Cheney and his buddies have been drinking?
  • If there was alcohol involved, wouldn't the hospital where Whittington is being treated have a TOX screen on record? Doesn't the public have a right to know exactly what happened?
  • Why did it take until the next day for information to come out to the public?
  • Why hasn't the Vice President made a public statement about the shooting? A statement, an apology, a mere moment of regret, well wishes for Whittington's recovery""not a word from the VP himself.

I believe that these are valid lines of questioning. Although the booze angle recalls visions of tinfoil hats, it is not as insane as it may have seemed in the hours following the initial newsbreak. However, I am going to concentrate on the certainties for the time being:

  • Cheney was hunting without the proper documentation""he claims that all license and stamp registration was done by aides and he did not know that anything was missing""he has since mailed in a check for the $7 bird stamp.
  • Cheney clearly was not following safe hunting guidelines. He would not have hit Mr. Whittington if he had been paying attention""therefore, his action was reckless. Such a reckless "accident" is a felony according to Texas law.
  • Cheney and his cronies kept the story to themselves for almost a full day before it was disclosed to the public""by the owner of the ranch where the accident took place, who was not a credible eye-witness (as she was not actually present when the shooting took place).
  • Cheney has not been subjected to a serious interview with law enforcement officials, who are seemingly content to close this case on the word of a devoutly corrupt man and his hunting buddies.
  • Mr. Whittington is now in the ICU, after suffering a heart attack which was directly connected to the shooting""he has birdshot lodged in his heart. This is no trifling matter""a man's life is now at stake here.
  • Oh, and our neo-con tough guys? Hunting in a car" possibly hunting tame birds (as he has done at least once before, in 2003). That dog don't hunt, no it don't.

So, we have a Vice President who was hunting without the proper legal documentation. Regardless of the cost of the missing document, this is illegal. Cheney broke the law and was allowed to atone by simply sending in a check after the fact, after he had shot one of his fellow hunters during his illegal hunting excursion. If a regular everyday American citizen had done this, he would be sitting in a jail cell right now waiting for authorities to decide if he should be charged with a crime.

Cheney had a dinner party, not a night in jail. While his cronies are spending time spinning the story to blame the victim""nothing new there.

Additionally, Cheney was allowed to simply say the word "accident" and get off without even having to undergo an official questioning, while the AP reported this story in 2004:

A hunter who critically wounded another hunter in November after mistaking him for a deer was sentenced to 20 days on the sheriff's road crew.

Lane County Circuit Judge Doug Mitchell also banned Trevor Kory Foster, 20, of Eugene from hunting during two years of probation and ordered him to pay $865 in attorney's fees and court costs.

He was convicted of misdemeanor assault and negligently wounding another.

The victim, 21-year-old Nicholas Lee Peterson, said he hopes the case encourages hunters to be more careful. He still cannot straighten his left arm, after being shot in the elbow and ribs with a .270-caliber rifle.

Old John Q. Citizen has to face the music for his mistake, but the Vice President of the United States, one of the highest leaders in the "free" world, gets a free pass while his victim is in intensive care.

Also, there are serious questions being raised about how Cheney could possibly have shot Whittington in the face and chest hunting for birds. Birds, as most of us already know, fly around in the air and perch in trees and whatnot. They don't generally place themselves at eye-level with a human male. It's either the ground or the sky for birds, not Harry Whittington's shoulder.

How, even if Whittington snuck up on him as he claims, could Dick Cheney have shot the face and chest of a man while aiming for a bird? Is his aim really that bad, or could he have been mentally or visually impaired? Even if Whittington came up behind Cheney, who turns around and fires a gun without looking to see what they are shooting at first? I'm no conspiracy theorist, so I don't think Cheney intended to shoot a big donor in cold blood, but this observation, made by many hunters as well as non-hunters, definitely gives the booze angle legs. MSNBC posted an article that included this observation, but quickly scrubbed the article clean of any mention of alcohol use.

Texas law actually counts such reckless "accidents" as felonies. Drunk or not, Cheney's actions were obviously reckless""had he been paying attention, Mr. Whittington wouldn't be in the hospital right now. Shooting someone with a .28 gauge shotgun while supposedly aiming at a bird" sounds reckless to me.

So, we have a VP who was reckless with a weapon, shot a guy in the face and chest, and then attended a nice dinner with friends while his victim was being treated at the hospital. We have a VP who didn't think this was important enough to share with the White House or the American public until the next day.

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Katherine Brengle Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Katherine Brengle is a freelance writer and activist.
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