Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Sunday Morning Going Down

Like Alice, I try to believe three impossible things before breakfast; but this story is stretching the limits.

Jane Hamsher notes that this language was originally in the CBS report about Cheney shooting a 78 year old man in the face:

CBS News White House correspondent Peter Maer reports Texas authorities are complaining that the Secret Service barred them from speaking to Cheney after the incident. Kenedy County Texas Sheriffs Lt. Juan Guzman said deputies first learned of the shooting when an ambulance was called.
And it's not there now. Instead, we have this:

Ranch owner Katharine Armstrong said no one discussed notifying the public of the accident Saturday because they were consumed with making sure Whittington was treated. She said the family realized in the morning that it would be a story and decided to call the local newspaper, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. She said she then discussed the news coverage with Cheney for the first time.
Emhasis added, because "Sunday morning" is going to be operative here.

Now, note the NYTimes story I've linked before:

The local sheriff, Ramon Salinas III of Kenedy County, said the Secret Service called him shortly after the shooting occurred.

Sheriff Salinas said he sent his chief deputy, Gilbert Sanmiguel, to the Armstrong Ranch that night. He said Mr. Sanmiguel interviewed Mr. Cheney and reported that the shooting was an accident.

The sheriff said Sunday that they had yet to speak to "the victim." "But you could say it's closed," Mr. Salinas said of the case.
But here's the story in the Corpus Christi paper this morning:

An investigation by the Kenedy County Sheriff's Department is ongoing and the report will not be released until it is complete, likely in several days, sheriff's officials said.

Kenedy County Chief Sheriff's Deputy Gilberto San Miguel Jr. spent most of Monday in Corpus Christi interviewing witnesses and visiting Whittington.

Sheriff Ramon Salinas said he received a call from Secret Service officials 10 minutes after the shooting Saturday. Sheriff's officials interviewed Cheney on Sunday morning at the ranch.

"He was feeling very bad," Salinas said.

A news release issued by the sheriff's office said employees at the ranch gate were unaware of the shooting when sheriff's officials arrived.
That last bit is the interesting bit. A lot of assumptions hang behind that seemingly unconnected assertion about the employees at the ranch gate. And that's the AP version of events:

Secret Service spokesman Eric Zahren said that about an hour after Cheney shot Whittington, the head of the Secret Service's local office called the Kenedy County sheriff to report the accident. "They made arrangements at the sheriff's request to have deputies come out and interview the vice president the following morning at 8 a.m. and that indeed did happen," Zahren said.

At least one deputy showed up at the ranch's front gate Saturday evening and asked to speak to Cheney but was turned away by the Secret Service, Zahren said. There was some miscommunication that arrangements already had been made to interview Cheney the next morning, he said.
Now, of course, there's the question of the logic of the timeline here, for one thing. Ms. Armstrong spoke to Karl Rove Saturday night, bu it didn't occur to her that the Vice President shooting a man on her ranch would be in the news, until Sunday morning. That strains credulity enough, but it isn't exactly a criminal act.

But on what authority did the Secret Service decide Vice President Cheney would not be available to a Sheriff's deputy until Sunday morning? Why can't the NYT get the timeline right? And why are parts of this story already trying to disappear down the memory hole?

Curiouser and curiouser.

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