by Amaury Nora
A South Texas grand jury has indicted Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on state charges related to the alleged abuse of prisoners at the Willacy County Detention Center in Raymondville, TX. Other people who were indicted were, Cameron County’s Justice of the Peace Judge Gustavo Garza; former US Attorney for the Southern District of Texas Mervyn Mosbacker; Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra; State Senator Eddie Lucio Jr; Willacy County Clerk Gilbert Lozano, District Judges Janet Leal and Migdalia Lopez and special prosecutor Gustavo Garza. They all face a stream of criminal charges including abuse of office and profiting from office.
The indictment names Cheney and Gonzales as “co-actors” engaged in organized criminal activity. It criticizes Cheney’s “85 billion” dollar investment in the Vanguard Group, which holds interests in the “top three [private prison] companies” running the federal detention centers. The indictment also accuses Cheney of a conflict of interest and “at least misdemeanor assaults” on detainees through his “tremendous amount of influence” on the agency, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), that provides contracts to these private prison companies. From the indictment:
The three-page indictment also alleges that former US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales “used his position…to stop the investigations as to the wrong doings.”
The most damning is the three-count murder charge against the GEO Group (formerly known as the Wackenhut Corrections Corporation) for allowing “one or more inmates to physically assault” Gregorio de la Rosa Jr to death with padlocks stuffed into socks. He was incarcerated at the GEO Group-operated facility when he was brutally murdered by two other prisoners on April 26, 2001; he was four days away from completing a six-month sentence for a drug-related offense.
The local news stated that nothing will come out of this indictment because Cheney is immune from criminal prosecution, however, this is not true. According to the Memorandum for the United States Concerning the Vice President’s Claim of Constitutional Immunity, filed Oct. 5, 1973 by the Attorney General’s Office, a Vice President could be subject to indictment and criminal prosecution. This was in response to Vice President Spiro Agnew’s argument that both he and the President were immune from criminal prosecution.
Is this finally a dream coming true?
You can find more in depth analysis on this breaking news on my blog.
UPDATE: AP is now reporting that Cheney’s indictment in South Texas moves forward.
A Texas judge has set an arraignment for Vice President Dick Cheney, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and other officials accused of involvement in prisoner abuse.
Presiding Judge Manuel Banales (buh-NAHL’-ehs) said Wednesday he will allow them to waive arraignment or have attorneys present rather than appear in person Friday.