- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 14, 2006

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Democrats in Congress yesterday accused Vice President Dick Cheney of a pattern of secrecy, and demanded that he “level” with the public on the accidental shooting of a hunting partner last weekend.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, called “troubling” the day’s wait before the public announcement of the hunting mishap in which Harry Whittington, 78, took bird shot in the neck, chest and face.

“A tendency of this administration — from the top all the way to the bottom — is to withhold information … to refuse to be forthcoming about information that is of significance and relevance to the jobs that all of you do,” Mrs. Clinton said at a press conference.

“Putting it all together, going back years now, there’s a pattern and it’s a pattern that should be troubling,” she said. “The refusal of this administration to level with the American people on matters large and small is very disturbing, because it goes counter to the way our constitutional democracy … is supposed to work.”

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada also said the secretive tendency goes beyond Mr. Cheney, pervading the entire Bush White House.

“I think the reason it took the vice president a day to talk about this is part of the secretive nature of this administration,” he said. “They keep things pretty close to the chest.”

“I think it’s time the American people heard from the vice president, in a real meeting just like we’re having here,” said Mr. Reid, who called the currentBush presidency “the most secretive administration in modern history.”

“In the last many, many decades, there’s no administration more secretive than this,” he said.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said the time has come for the vice president to hold a press conference — which Mr. Schumer estimated would be the vice president’s first in some four years — to clear the air.

“In light of the recent shooting accident and all the questions surrounding his role in the leaking of classified national security information … there are many questions that Americans have for VP Cheney,” Mr. Schumer stated in a press release.


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