Columnist Barry Saunders

A North Carolina columnist claimed today Dick Cheney’s shooting of friend Harry Whittington was not an accident, but was meant to be a message to his former chief of staff, Scooter Libby, not to testify against the vice president in the Valerie Plame leak investigation.

“Accident my eye. Or rather, Harry Whittington’s eye,” writes Barry Saunders in the Raleigh, N.C., News & Observer.

“If you believe it was just an accident that Vice President Dick Cheney shot his hunting companion last weekend, you obviously have never seen ‘The Godfather’ movies.”

Continued Saunders in his column: “Just as surely as a fish wrapped in a bulletproof vest means ‘Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes,’ that shotgun blast to Whittington’s face was meant to convey that I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby had better bite his tongue and forget about testifying against Cheney, his former boss, in the Valerie Plame spy case.”

Libby has been indicted on federal charges he lied to investigators probing the leak of Plame’s identity to the media. Last week, prosecutors reported he told a grand jury that superiors authorized him to disclose classified information to reporters because they were angered about Plame’s husband’s opposition to the Iraq war.

Vice President Dick Cheney

“A vice president who’ll shoot an ally to get across his message of omerta – that’s mobspeak for ‘hush up’ – may be considered a national disgrace by some,” writes Saunders. “Not by me. I embrace the prospect of a lead-slingin’ veep. Think of the impact Cheney’s shot heard ’round the world will have on America’s diplomatic efforts. When obstinate countries declare their unwillingness to negotiate with Secretary of State Condi Rice, all we have to do is roll out Deadeye Dick.”

Whittington, Cheney’s hunting buddy who was shot, had a mild heart attack today in the hospital where he is recovering from pellet wounds.

“Some of the bird shot appears to have moved and lodged into part of his heart in what we would say is a minor heart attack,” Peter Banko, the administrator at Christus Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Memorial in Texas. told a news conference outside the hospital today.

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