Sunday, February 19, 2006

ShotgunGate: There were "guides"?

Interesting article in Newsweek that discusses last weekend's infamous shooting in south Texas as well as the broader strangeness that is Dick Cheney. But one passage about the shooting, in particular, caught my eye:

It was late afternoon, and the hunters were ready to call it a day. Harry Whittington, a prominent Austin lawyer and big-time GOP donor, had bagged two birds with two shots. "Great shot, Harry, you got a double!" called out Katharine. While Whittington went off with his dog and his guides to find the dead birds, Cheney and Pam Willeford, the U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein and another major GOP donor, went ahead to look for another covey of birds. Cheney spotted a bird flying behind him, swung around with his Italian-made 28-gauge shotgun toward the setting sun and pulled the trigger. Whittington, wearing a regulation orange vest, was approaching out of a slight gully, some 30 yards away.

This is the first I've heard that there were hunting guides along with the three-person hunting group that included Dick Cheney, Harry Whittington and Ambassador Pamela Willeford. And it sounds as though the guides - plural - went with Whittington.

So, did that leave any additional guides with Cheney and Willeford? Were they left alone at that point? Why would more than one guide accompany Whittington while, apparently, leaving Cheney and Willeford by themselves? And what were the guides doing when Whittington attempted to re-join Cheney and Willeford? Have these guides been interviewed by law enforcement officials to get their side of the story?

So many questions.

Every other story I have read led me to believe that Cheney, Whittington and Willeford were on their own in the brush, that the nearest witnesses were located in a vehicle about a hundred yards away. But now there seems to be a casual mention of "guides" in the Newsweek story.

Additionally, if Whittington was with "his dog and his guides", how the hell could two people - Cheney and Willeford - not have heard at least three people and a dog approaching through the brush at a distance of just 30 yards? Were their senses dulled by something? Were they otherwise pre-occupied?

As more clues come out on this episode, it becomes more apparent that this may not have been "just" a hunting accident.


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