Believed Shooting Victim Was Zawahiri, Veep Says
Vice President Dick Cheney revealed today that he shot a fellow hunter
while on a quail hunting trip over the weekend because he believed the
man was the fugitive terror mastermind Ayman al-Zawahiri.
Mr. Cheney acknowledged that the man he sprayed with pellets on
Saturday was not al-Zawahiri but rather Harry Whittington, a 78-year-old
millionaire lawyer from Austin, blaming the mix-up on "faulty
"I believed I had credible intelligence that al-Zawahiri had
infiltrated my hunting party in disguise with the intent of spraying me
with pellets," Mr. Cheney told reporters. "Only after I shot Harry in
the face and he shouted 'Cheney, you bastard' did I realize that this
intelligence was faulty."
Moments after Mr. Cheney's assault on Mr. Whittington, Mr. al-Zawahiri
appeared in a new videotape broadcast on al-Jazeera to announce that he
was uninjured in the vice president's attack because, in his words, "I
was in Pakistan."
An aide to the vice president said he believed that the American people
would believe Mr. Cheney's version of events, but added, "If he was
going to shoot any of his cronies right now it's a shame it wasn't Jack
At the White House, President George W. Bush defended his vice
president's shooting of a fellow hunter, saying that the attack sent "a
strong message to terrorists everywhere."
"The message is, if Dick Cheney is willing to shoot an innocent
American citizen at point-blank range, imagine what he'll do to you,"
Mr. Bush said.