It will come as no surprise that during today's White House press briefing, Dick Cheney's hunting adventure was the hot topic. Are you thinking, "boring," or, "I'm sooo tired of this story?" That's where I was...but after Scott's performance this afternoon? I'm now wondering if the Dick-shot-man story will be going away soon.
And in the course of the discussion in that diary, I jokingly wrote:
I (barely) resisted the urge to say Scott's story was full of holes.
And now, (barely) three days after the shooting story broke, I've realized how many holes in the story there truly are. What follows is a compilation of the conflicting statements of just one person...Dick Cheney's friend and alibi, Katharine 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."
But what is left out of that now familiar quote is this important detail:
From what Armstrong said she saw as she sat in the hunt vehicle about 100 yards from Cheney and the other hunters...
Think about that. Armstrong was sitting in a car that was parked the length of a football field away, yet she not only could see that Whittington didn't signal, she knew that he didn't announce his return. Even accepting the story that she could see the events clearly from that distance, she certainly wouldn't have been able to hear what Whittington did or didn't say.
And what about Armstrong's repeated efforts to downplay Whittington's injuries?
"It broke the skin. 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.
Fortunately, the vice president has got a lot of medical people around him and so they were right there and probably more cautious than we would have been." [...]
"...bruised more than bloodied, and his pride was hurt more than anything else."
But how does that casual dismissal square with this?
The medical team that travels with Cheney immediately began ministering to Whittington, who was bleeding profusely from wounds to his face, neck and chest, witnesses said.
"Sally (Whittington) May said her father does not recall a lot of the incident, nor was he involved in how or whether information about the incident was released: 'He didn't know at the time if he was going to the hospital or the mortuary.'"
And as the focus intensified on why the announcement about the shooting was delayed for 22 hours, so did Armstrong's story on what she was focused on that night:
"Ranch owner Katharine Armstrong said no one discussed notifying the public of the accident Saturday because they were so consumed with making sure [Harry] Whittington was OK.
They were consumed? With what? I thought that it was only Whittington's pride that was hurt.
And of course there is the burning question; was alcohol a factor in the shooting? According to the ever-accomodating Armstrong:
None in the hunting party was drinking alcohol, Armstrong said.
"No, zero, zippo and I don't drink at all," she said. "No one was drinking."
When someone starts throwing around "zippo," you know they must be serious, right? But one must ask about the now scrubbed MSNBC story where Armstrong said:
...she believes no one that day was drinking, although she says there may have been beer available during a picnic lunch that preceded the incident. "There may be a beer or two in there," she said, "but remember not everyone in the party was shooting."
From zero and zippo to beer being available...not that anyone was drinking it. By the way, did I mention that it was only Whittington's pride that was hurt? After all, Katharine Armstrong said so.
It was this model of consistency that was chosen to annouce to the world that the Vice President of the United States shot a man. And when did Ms. Armstrong decide to break the story to a local paper? On Saturday.
Armstrong said Cheney had spoken with her Saturday evening about disclosing the incident to the public. "We knew word would get out," she said. He urged her to tell friends and family first, before word leaked out to the media.
No, check that, it was on Sunday:
...Armstrong said that she, her mother and her sister, Sara Storey Armstrong Hixon, decided on Sunday morning after breakfast to report the shooting accident to the media...We felt -- that the information needed to go public. It was our idea," Armstrong said.
Wait, it was on Sunday, but it was her decision
Katharine Armstrong said she made the decision to inform the Corpus Christi Caller Times about the accident on Sunday.
So let's recap the many statements made by Cheney's alibi; from the inside of a car, 100 yards from the scene, Armstrong neither saw nor heard Whittington announce his approach, he was "more bruised than bloody," and he was "bleeding profusely," he was "fine," and he didn't know, "if he was going to the hospital or the mortuary," there was "no drinking" and there was, "beer available," Cheney "urged" her tell her story on Saturday, and it was her family's "idea" on Sunday, except when it was her idea on Sunday.
As clear as mud, isn't it? Bear in mind, this is just one person's conflicting and contradictory statements in the ongoing-saga of how the Vice President of the United States shot a 78 year old man in the face.
Update: Thanks to emptywheel for pointing this out:
There's a paragraph in the now-scrubbed beer story that makes it clear that she didn't see the accident.Thanks, emptywheelArmstrong said she saw Cheney's security detail running toward the scene. "The first thing that crossed my mind was he had a heart problem," she told The Associated Press.This is Armstrong admitting that the first evidence she saw that alerted her that something was wrong was the Secret Service running to help. And that she thought it was Cheney who was in trouble.
This says, to me at least, that she did not see the accident at all.
I'm very curious why no one has asked Ms. Ambassador to Switzerland about the accident, seeing as how she was supposedly standing right next to Dick.
Update II: I've posted Part II of this diary at ePluribus Media.