Washington, Feb. 14 (Reuters): The White House was bombarded with questions yesterday about why it failed to go public with news that vice-president Dick Cheney shot a fellow quail hunter until the day after the accident.
The victim, Harry Whittington, 78, took pellets in his cheek, neck and chest when Cheney fired his shotgun while aiming for a bird during a hunt in southern Texas on Saturday, and was in stable condition at a Corpus Christi hospital.
The accident took place at about 5.30 pm on a private ranch about 322 km south of San Antonio, where the vice- president has hunted previously.
The accident was not reported publicly by the vice presidentís office until Sunday afternoon and then only after an account provided by the ranchís owner appeared on the website of the local newspaper, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.
In a testy exchange with reporters yesterday, White House spokesman Scott McClellan faced dozens of questions about the propriety of a private citizen making public a shooting incident involving the vice-president.
McClellan said President George W. Bush and senior aides were first told by staff in the Situation Room that there had been an accident and that the vice-president had been the shooter.