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Ritmo, not Gitmo, to undo Cheney?

19 November 2008

Updates in bold-face italics.

WOW!

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.

The indictment returned Monday has not yet been signed by the presiding judge, and no action can be taken until that happens….

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.

Megan Mitchell, a spokeswoman for Cheney, declined to comment on Tuesday, saying that the vice president had not yet received a copy of the indictment.

The indictment accuses Gonzales of using his position while in office to stop an investigation in 2006 into abuses at one of the privately-run prisons.

Gonzales’ attorney, George Terwilliger III, said in a written statement, “This is obviously a bogus charge on its face, as any good prosecutor can recognize.” He said he hoped Texas authorities would take steps to stop “this abuse of the criminal justice system.”

Willacy County has become a prison hub with county, state and federal lockups. Guerra has gone after the prison-politician nexus before, extracting guilty pleas from three former Willacy and Webb county commissioners after investigating bribery related to federal prison contacts.

Last month, a Willacy County grand jury indicted The GEO Group, a Florida private prison company, on a murder charge in the death of a prisoner days before his release. The three-count indictment alleged The GEO Group allowed other inmates to beat Gregorio de la Rosa Jr. to death with padlocks stuffed into socks. The death happened in 2001 at the Raymondville facility.

In 2006, a jury ordered the company to pay de la Rosa’s family $47.5 million in a civil judgment. The Cheney-Gonzales indictment makes reference to the de la Rosa case.

None of the indictments released Tuesday had been signed by Presiding Judge Manuel Banales of the Fifth Administrative Judicial Region.

It’s not that I haven’t — and a lot of us haven’t — wondered what’s going on with those rent-a-pens in Willacy County, home of the largest private concentration camp in the United States and a violator of all kinds of Texas laws, not to mention an affront to human decency… but this is amazing.  If nothing else, it may bring to light these abuses.

Probably nothing will come of it — although Presiding Judge Manuel Banales has set an arraignment date for Friday (but also ruled that Cheney, and co-defendant Alberto Gonzales, need not appear in person. Willarcy County politics is more bizarre than even Mexican politics, and  I have no way of keeping up with this story.  South Texas Chisme is probably the best source for reading up on the antics of District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra (who “couldbetrue” calls “D.A. Hissy Fit”), but then, a Grand Jury can do pretty much whatever it wants… even indicting Dick Cheney.  Another great source (and a very good, often overlooked news source for border and north Mexico news) is the McAllen Monitor.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. MaryOGrady permalink
    20 November 2008 8:01 am

    Just because the Willacy County District Attorney is a little nuts does not mean the grand jury isn’t doing the right thing. I hope this touches off a huge wave of indictments of Bush Administration officials all over the US.

  2. 20 November 2008 8:14 am

    I agree. This issue should not be a source of entertainment. I too hope that indictments flow against Bush administration officials. Somehow, I think I may be wishing for too much.

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  1. » Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzales, GEO Group Indicted In South Texas - By ¡Para Justicia y Libertad!

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