Cheney, Gonzales Indicted

This is just too fun:

Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales have been indicted on state charges involving federal prisons in a South Texas county that has been a source of bizarre legal and political battles under the outgoing prosecutor.

Just writing the headline was a joy-rush. Unfortunately, of all the real and imagined crimes for which Cheney and Gonzales deserve indictment, these are far down the list. Don't expect Cheney or Gonzeles to do the perp walk any time soon.

Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra brought the indictment, but as he said, "the grand jury is the one that made those decisions, not me." Guerra has an interesting history: [more ...]

Guerra himself was under indictment for more than a year and half until a judge dismissed the indictments last month.

Here's the charge:

Cheney is charged with engaging in an organized criminal activity related to the vice president's investment in the Vanguard Group, which holds financial interests in the private prison companies running the federal detention centers. It accuses Cheney of a conflict of interest and "at least misdemeanor assaults" on detainees because of his link to the prison companies.

Unless Cheney shot some inmates in the face, it's difficult to understand how he could have assaulted inmates by investing in Vanguard which in turn invests in private prison companies. As willing as some of us might be to believe that Cheney is indeed the kingpin of a vast criminal enterprise that could include Vanguard Group and private prisons (not to mention Haliburton and the CIA), judges aren't likely to accept whatever legal theory Guerra fed to his grand jury.

(h/t to Peter G for catching the story)

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  • Display: Sort:
    "Cheney, Gonzales Indicted" (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by Radiowalla on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 12:09:57 AM EST
    I think I'll embroider this on a pillow for my couch.  

    The entire article is fascinating, if only for its (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by DeborahNC on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 01:54:34 AM EST
    dramatic flair. It's worth reading the entire piece.

    Apparently, those Willacy County grand jurors have been extremely busy recently. Last month, the Willacy County grand jury indicted The GEO Group, a private prison company located in Florida, on a charge of murder involving the death of a prisoner.

    The article further states that the case of the prisoner's death is referenced in the Cheney-Gonzales indictment. Apparently, a jury ordered The GEO Group to pay the prisoner's family $47.5 million in a civil judgment back in 2006.

    TChris, can you speculate on how these two indictments could be legitimately related, given the circumstances described regarding the nature of the prisoner's death?

    I lived in Texas for several years (grad. school), and I regularly saw bumper stickers with the message, "Don't Mess with Texas." After living in Houston for only a couple of months, I began to take the message seriously.

    Texas juries hand down guilty verdicts, seemingly, without too much hesitation.

    My advice is to be on your best behavior while in Texas, because if the courts don't convict you, other Texans are willing to dole out the necessary justice. (Said in jest, kind of.)

    If only the Texas courts could work their magic on Cheney and Gonzales! I think my heart skipped a beat when I read that headline in the Houston Chronicle.

    ya, this title is a bit mean... (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by of1000Kings on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 02:21:38 AM EST
    getting all our hopes up that justice would prevail in America even when the persons involved are rich and connected...like that happens...

    You got that (none / 0) (#15)
    by Wile ECoyote on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 06:57:34 AM EST
    right.  I now have hope the former head of fannie mae and freddi mac will be indicted.  

    no doubt... (none / 0) (#29)
    by of1000Kings on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 12:33:29 PM EST
    Given (none / 0) (#13)
    by TChris on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 03:22:30 AM EST
    the word "legitimately" in your question, I cannot come up with a speculative theory that would explain the Cheney-Gonzales indictment. Not having seen the indictment, we're not yet playing with all the facts, but I am having difficulty imagining even a novel legal theory that would impose criminal liability upon Cheney or Gonzales for something that happened in a private prison.  Maybe the two of them were moonlighting as prison administrators? Maybe they actually own and manage the private prisons through a series of shell corporations?  No ... the world "legitimate" keeps getting in the way.

    I suspected "legitimately" might be a (none / 0) (#14)
    by DeborahNC on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 05:35:07 AM EST
    word that could confound the situation.

    "...but I am having difficulty imagining even a novel legal theory that would impose criminal liability upon Cheney or Gonzales for something that happened in a private prison. Maybe the two of them were moonlighting as prison administrators?"

    Since Cheney, in particular, has a penchant for torture, I could envision him wanting to become 'actively involved' in a day-to-day mangerial role in a prison.

    If there were problems with a certain prisoner, he'd probably love to intervene with, "Causing problems, huh? Have you tried ...?

    Hey, "legitimate" would never get in Cheney's way when he's on the job.

    Anyway, thanks for the reply.


    Having served on a grand jury, I can say (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by scribe on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 07:54:22 AM EST
    a prosecutor doesn't even need a ham sandwich.  Just the suggestion of one will do.

    But, more deliciously, from here until the end of time, every time Cheney and Gonzales fill out a job application, they will have to answer "yes" to that question "have you ever been indicted?"  
    I know the question is probably not legitimate on a job app, but it remains there anyway.  

    Moreover, if I were Deadeye, I would take all my guns and have them stored in the custody of the local law enforcement - wherever they might be.  IIRC (and please correct me if I'm wrong), possessing a firearm while being indicted for a state crime which carries a sentence of over one year is a violation of one of the subsections of 18 US 922, and carries with it federal time.  I have no doubt the crimes which are charged in that indictment do carry a sentence over a year.  After all, this is Texas.

    No huntin' in Texas (or anywhere else) 'til this little problem is resolved, Deadeye.

    No hunting... (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by kdog on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 08:00:03 AM EST
    very good news for fellow hunters, knowing what we know about Dick's aim:)

    I think (none / 0) (#25)
    by TChris on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 10:07:17 AM EST
    the "under indictment" restriction on firearms possession applies only to indictment for federal crimes (as opposed to the "felony conviction" restriction which applies to both state and federal felonies).

    Watch out for that "thinking," TChris (none / 0) (#26)
    by Peter G on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 10:37:08 AM EST
    Under the federal gun control statute, it is unlawful to sell ("or otherwise dispose of") a firearm (or ammunition) to someone who is under indictment for a felony (state or federal), 18 USC 922(d)(1).  But it is not illegal for someone under indictment, even for a felony, to continue to possess a firearm already owned -- until conviction.  18 USC 922(g)(1).  Of course, surrendering possession of any firearms may be a condition of bail for someone under indictment. I have no idea what laws, if any, Texas may have on the subject.

    You're right (none / 0) (#27)
    by TChris on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 11:47:06 AM EST
    I knew when I looked it up some time ago I concluded that being charged with a state felony would not trigger any of the 922 prohibitions against firearm possession.  You reminded me why I came to that conclusion.  Maybe from now on I should refresh my recollection with some research rather than relying on my foggy memory.

    I saw.... (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by kdog on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 07:58:26 AM EST
    "Cheney & Gonzalez Indicted" on the cable news ticker as I was cleaning what the sandman left me out of my eyes...that's the way to start the day!  Better than a strong cup o' joe.

    Then I heard the talking heads saying it is a meaningless indictment that will be thrown out faster than you can "crooked"...just like that, back to reality...but for a shining semi-concious moment I believed in the dream of liberty and justice for all.  

    Darn it! (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 08:37:48 AM EST
    That's one perp walk that I would so loooove to see!

    I never get to have any fun...

    well, the great thing (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by cpinva on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 01:36:46 PM EST
    about texas juries, is that they'll convict anybody, of anything, actual guilt or innocence notwithstanding.

    but i seriously doubt these indictments are going anywhere, other than the shredder, anytime soon.

    I don't know about "great," but you're (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by DeborahNC on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 07:57:14 PM EST
    right that Texans do seem to indict and convict without a lot of serious deliberation. I'm not generally in favor of mob justice, but if Cheney is to be indicted somewhere, the best state for a conviction would be Texas.

    I CAN say, unequivocally, THAT would be "GREAT!" I know he's guilty of many things, some of which have to involve "organized criminal activity," as the indictment states. But in Dick's case, he did the organizing of most of the "criminal activity" himself, and Scooter and others carried it out. ;-)

    He will get a pardon if convicted. (none / 0) (#2)
    by Amiss on Tue Nov 18, 2008 at 11:32:38 PM EST

    The Indictments aren't public (none / 0) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 12:04:11 AM EST
    says this news source until there has been an arrest or release on bond. No arrest warrants have been issued.


    In the March 2008 democratic primary, 70 percent of the Willacy County voters elected to remove him as the district attorney.

    It looks like the DA also had the local judge indicted.

    Those being indicted are VP Dick Cheney, former attorney general Alberto Gonzalez, judge Midgdalia Lopez, judge Janet Leal, former u s attorney Marvin Mosbacker, Willacy county district clerk Gilbert Lozano among others. Cheney and Alberto Gonzalez are being indicted on separate charges related to alleged prisoner abuse in federal detention centers.

    From the county's website: District Court Judge Midgalia Lopez.

    I doubt she will sign the Indictments or that arrest warrants will issue. But TChris is right, it is a fun thing to read.

    Hmmm (none / 0) (#5)
    by cal1942 on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 12:15:50 AM EST
    A bit off topic perhaps, but.

    Interesting to know that the Vice President of the United States is invested in privatizing government services at a time when he can at least influence privatization issues.

    On topic.

    How could he possibly be indicted for problems in an enterprise in which he is an investor but not connected directly with managing the facility?

    Because, and only because, (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by Peter G on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 01:13:23 AM EST
    as ex-Judge Wachtler famously remarked, any decent prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. No offense intended, in this context, to any actual ham sandwich.

    Peter G (none / 0) (#7)
    by cal1942 on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 01:29:56 AM EST
    Great reply.  I'd forgotten the ham sandwich thing.

    conflict of interest by a politician? (none / 0) (#10)
    by of1000Kings on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 02:16:31 AM EST
    no way....

    it isn't even a big deal anymore when a politician has favors done for a particular company because he or one of his friends owns part of the company...

    unless, of course....


    in my hometown we had a guy (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by of1000Kings on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 02:20:13 AM EST
    who was the mayor (and now he's the majority floor leader in the senate for Missouri) and he also operated as an investor under the Edward Jones branding...

    anyway, whenever the city needed to raise money via bonds who do you think they turned to to?  yup, the good ole mayor...

    he helped make the decisions and made money in the process...a TRUE American by god...living the American dream of making money the underhanded way...


    My gosh (none / 0) (#8)
    by Steve M on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 01:32:11 AM EST
    This goes even beyond ham sandwich territory.

    As information, (none / 0) (#16)
    by easilydistracted on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 07:12:26 AM EST
    this story hasn't had any air time in the DFW metroplex, at least I haven't heard anything on the local networks.  

    Will Bush (none / 0) (#17)
    by WS on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 07:27:37 AM EST
    do a "pre-emptive pardon?"  Is that even possible?  

    We've learned by now that (5.00 / 3) (#18)
    by easilydistracted on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 07:38:49 AM EST
    anything is possible with his administration.  

    Ford pardoned Nixon for unspecified crimes. (none / 0) (#23)
    by JSN on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 09:07:04 AM EST
    I never understood how he was able to get away with that.

    No presidential pardon (none / 0) (#24)
    by Peter G on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 09:35:43 AM EST
    The President's pardon/clemency power is plenary ("except in Cases of Impeachment") over federal offenses (US Const, art. II, sec. 2, cl. 1), but s/he has no authority to pardon a state offense, as this Texas nonsense would be.  

    On the "pre-emptive pardon" thing: depends what you mean.  The President can pardon any (federal) "offense"; s/he does not pardon the conviction of the offense.  So, no, a pardon cannot be pre-emptive in the sense that it precedes the commission of the offense, but it can be in the sense that it post-dates the criminal act but precedes any prosecution or conviction.


    Here's the crux.. and a flip-flop (none / 0) (#28)
    by ctrenta on Wed Nov 19, 2008 at 12:05:26 PM EST
    The AP report noted that the indictments "have not yet been signed by the presiding judge, and no action can be taken on them until that happens."

    How likely is that going to happen? With all due respect, can someone answer that?

    As much as I support this, I do think it should be much harder than just getting a DA and a grand jury to indict him. I don't want our country going down the slippery slope of mob justice. It shouldn't be this easy. I don't want the law run rampant. It's the reverse of what the Bush Administration has conducted. Just as extreme and just as reckless.

    On a completely different perspective, let me ask this: what gives a judge the authority to throw anything out that has passed the grand jury test? Do we even want that kind of power with one person? I'm just asking. Random thought.