U.S. Downplays Attack on Base Where Cheney Slept
White House spokesman Tony Snow downplays news of an attack on a U.S. military base at Bagram, Afghanistan, where Vice President Dick Cheney had just spent the night. Estimates of the death toll have gone as high as 23 in the attack, which the Taliban called an attempted assassination.
The purpose of Cheney's trip to Afghanistan and an earlier visit to Pakistan was to press the governments to do more about a growing threat from the Taliban and al-Qaida.
The White House has been warning of a springtime offensive by the Taliban. It's not clear that the base attack at Bagram was part of one — but spokesman Maj. William Mitchell stressed that Cheney was never in danger, saying "there was never any threat to the vice president."
Afterward, Cheney himself spoke for just three minutes with reporters traveling with him. He said he heard a loud boom and that Secret Service agents took him to a bomb shelter for a brief time.
Asked if he considered changing his itinerary, including a subsequent meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Cheny's full answer was, "Never an option."
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