CRAWFORD, Texas - April 1, 2008 - Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and wounded anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan at her protest camp near the Presidential Ranch in Crawford, Texas, local authorities and the vice president's office said Saturday. It was not immediately clear why the Vice President was hunting so close to Sheehan's outpost.
The wounded Sheehan was in intensive care at a Corpus Christi hospital after being hit eight times in the back Saturday afternoon, hospital spokesman Peter Banko told CNN. "She's doing well and in stable condition today," Banko said.
The shooting occurred about 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Kenedy County Sheriff Ray Salinas said. He said his deputies are investigating the shooting but consider it an accident. Cheney, an avid hunter, was shooting at a covey of quail on the Bush Ranch in Crawford. Salinas said Sheehan was about 30 yards from Cheney when the vice president fired. Salinas said Cheney was firing a 28-gauge shotgun, a small-bore weapon commonly used for hunting birds, but, in an unusual move, was using depleted uranium rounds instead of birdshot. This stands in stark contrast to the February 2006 hunting accident involving the Vice President, in which Mr. Cheney "peppered" 78-year-old Harry Whittington, an Austin attorney, with birdshot in the face and chest.
From his hospital bed, Mr. Whittington offered Sheehan few condolences. "I'd like to pick up the phone and offer her a few kind words, but, as you know, she's a Democrat," he said.
Speaking at a press conference at his Crawford ranch, President George W. Bush stated, "By getting shot, Cindy Sheehan has ruined yet another weekend at the ranch."
Vice President Cheney said that Sheehan "apparently came up unannounced" as Cheney prepared to fire. Cheney further stated, "I stand by my decision to shoot Cindy Sheehan. The best intelligence available at the time indicated that there were quail hidden in the brush. At the time I made the decision to shoot, everyone believed that there were quail in the brush. And even though the quail turned out to be Cindy Sheehan, and even if I knew that today, I would still make the same decision, to shoot Cindy Sheehan. I believe the world is a safer, better place because of the actions I have taken as Vice President."
On his daily radio show, Rush Limbaugh defended the vice president’s shooting of Sheehan, saying that the attack sent “a strong message to terrorists everywhere, namely, if Dick Cheney is willing to shoot an innocent American citizen at point-blank range, imagine what he’ll do to you."
The Department of Homeland Security today announced the implementation of a new, color-coded “ Cheney Security Alert” system to warn Americans of imminent attacks by Vice President Dick Cheney. The new alert system drew immediate criticism from Democrats in Congress, such as Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), fresh from an Automobile Safety Conference awards ceremony, who likened it to closing the barn door after the horses have escaped.
“The fact is, the White House had already been warned that Dick Cheney was going to strike, but they sat on their hands and did nothing,” Mr. Kennedy said, referring to a Presidential Daily Brief dated 4 February 2006, with the title, “Dick Cheney Determined to Strike in U.S.,” in which the CIA warned that the Vice President was a serious threat to the population at large, and "possessed the capabilities and intentions to harm Americans with weapons of misdirection."
Immediately upon the surfacing of the PDF, the following statement was issued by the Committee For a Safer White House, an organization that tracks vice-presidential violence: "It is now apparent that the Bush Regime did not understand or appreciate the risk posed by Cheney, and have utterly failed to develop an adequate Cheney-containment policy." White House press secretary Dana Perino responded by citing the many times that random Cheney attacks have been prevented by the regime. "Protecting Americans from vice-presidential shotgun blasts will remain one of the highest priorities of this regime," she said. "Whenever the president has been confronted with reports concerning the vice president's assaults on our citizens, the president has taken all of the appropriate steps, including close monitoring of the vice president and proper medication, to ensure the safety of our Homeland," she added.