Cheney, Gonzales indictment: poisoning the well

The blogosphere is again buzzing; this time it’s because Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales were finally indicted.  The problem is that this indictment has one purpose and one purpose only; to poison the well in case of future such indictments.

How do we know this?  That’s the easy part…

So, how do we know that this indictment is pure kabuki in order to “poison the well” in case of any future indictments?

1)  Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales were the top two guys involved other than President Bush

There are many sources available that link Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales to the torture memo’s that led to the United States abuse of detainees.

White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales chaired the meetings on this issue, which included detailed descriptions of interrogation techniques such as “waterboarding,” a tactic intended to make detainees feel as if they are drowning. He raised no objections and, without consulting military and State Department experts in the laws of torture and war, approved an August 2002 memo that gave CIA interrogators the legal blessings they sought.

It was largely the work of five White House, Pentagon and Justice Department lawyers who, following the orders of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, reinterpreted or tossed out the U.S. and international laws that govern the treatment of prisoners in wartime, according to former U.S. defense and Bush administration officials.

To go on is a futile exercise in redundancy.  

2)  The indictment comes out of Texas

If there is one state where President Bush holds the most political clout, it is the state where he was governor; Texas.  

3)  The indictment was put forth by Juan Guerra

To say that this person has zero credibility is being generous.

RAYMONDVILLE – Three Willacy County officials have signed a petition seeking to remove District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra.

Willacy County Sheriff Larry Spence, District Clerk Gilbert Lozano and County Clerk Terry Flores signed the petition in district court Tuesday afternoon.

Guerra declined comment because the court had not served him with the petition. He said Lozano tried to charge him $48 for a photocopy of the petition.

The document requests a state district judge order a jury trial to decide whether to remove Guerra from office on 39 counts, including incompetence and misconduct.

“Juan Angel Guerra should be removed from office due to incompetency and acts or omissions that constitute official misconduct,” the petition states.

The petition accuses Guerra of failing to perform his duties as county attorney and using his office to retaliate against citizens and county officials.

It also charges “Juan Guerra has created a hostile atmosphere among other government officers to the point of debilitating the working of the county attorney’s office to carry out its duties amounting to incompetence and official misconduct.”

“Every allegation is based on documentation,” Lozano said of the 48-page petition.

This petition was put forth in August, 2007.

4)  The charges of the indictment brought against Cheney and Gonzales

They were indicted this week by a Texas grand jury on state charges accusing them of responsibility for prisoner abuse in a privately run federal jail.

One indictment charges Cheney and Gonzales with engaging in organized criminal activity. It alleges they neglected federal prisoners and are responsible for abuses in the privately run prisons in Willacy County in South Texas.

The grand jury accused Cheney of a conflict of interest because of his alleged influence over the county’s federal immigrant prison and his investments in the Vanguard Group, which invests in private prison companies. The indictment accuses Gonzales of using his influence to stop an investigation into corruption during the building of another federal jail.  

Remember, this is not a civil trial, but, criminal trial indictments.  That means that the burden of proof falls on the prosecution to prove its case beyond any reasonable doubt.


Basically, while the blogosphere crows over the indictment, the damage that this will do to any future indictments that should be brought will be devastating.

If, but more likely “when”, Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales are cleared in this case, any attempt to bring them to trial for coordinating the abuse of detainee’s in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, which reaches the level of war crimes, will be immediately attacked as merely another political hit job.  The conservative pundits will have a field day in the press decrying the witch hunt.  Prosecutor’s will be reluctant to fight the press battle and appearance of a second indictment for the same charges (responsible for detainee abuse).

Thus, the battle will never be fought.

JUAN ANGEL GUERRA: Well, the connection, it’s organizing criminal activity. It has all the elements. Vice President Cheney is at the very top, and he has a lot of influence on ICE and Homeland Security. They determine how much money they’re going to pay the private prisons per day and per person. So, right now, the contracts go through the GEO Group, which is one of the highest, the biggest private prisons, CCA and Cornell. Now, these three are the biggest companies. When you round up the inmates, this is where they end up. Their money is-they’re getting paid at-right now it’s at $80 per person per day. It used to be $54, now it’s $80. And that’s controlled by the administration as to how much money they’re going to pay per person. They’re fixing to going up to $120. So this-

AMY GOODMAN: Juan Guerra, the Vice President’s attorney says this is bizarre, that you had Cheney invested in Vanguard Group, which is a mutual fund that, yes, does invest in the private prison industry, but can you indict him for being responsible for abusive behavior in the prison?

JUAN ANGEL GUERRA: Well, yes, because, again, you have the activities, the criminal activities, that his involvement is that he is aware with the Vanguard Group. The Vanguard Group has invested-is invested. It’s a top ten companies that are investing in the three top private prisons companies, the private prisons. So if you follow Vanguard, then he ended up investing $85 million. The problem here is that the Vanguard Group is not part of his blind trust. This is money that he has, quote, “on the side.” It is reported in his income tax with his signature there. So he knows exactly where his money is invested. If this was part of his blind trust, then he would have no control. So because he has control, so now they’re trying to increase the number, the price. Instead of $80, they’re trying to go to $120, which means that these private companies are going to end up making more money, which means that Vanguard would make more money, which means that obviously the Vice President would make more money.

AMY GOODMAN: And Alberto Gonzales’s connection?

JUAN ANGEL GUERRA: That’s one. You have the top boss, which is the Vice President, and then you have Alberto Gonzales, the enforcer to making sure that that criminal activity which is going on in the private prisons-we had numerous deaths that are occurring throughout our country. We brought in experts and witnesses that were telling us that the numbers of prison inmates dying in the private prisons is staggering. It’s about five times as high as the public prisons, so that all this criminal activity that is going on is contributed to now allowing investigations into what is going. Alberto Gonzales’s part was to make sure that private prisons would not get investigated, so that when we started the investigation, the FBI took over the investigation. The assistant US attorney that was handling the investigation, Marvin Mosbacker-

AMY GOODMAN: Juan Angel Guerra, we want to thank you for being with us.

That interview says it all:  They are trying to get Dick Cheney for having INVESTED in a group involved and because he had AUTHORITY over agencies, he is culpable.  That will be the SAME argument used in any detainee abuse charges brought, except, in those, we have actual statements and evidence that Dick Cheney and others in the White House cleared the torture techniques and actually acted them out during the meeting.

This Texas indictment will have one outcome; to poison the well for any future indictments that could come forth against these two individuals.


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    • Edger on November 21, 2008 at 12:47 am
  1. And, you know what, I think you might possibly be right on this issue of the indictments.  Just one caveat, however, and that is, that the news is out there, here and internationally, of the indictments and the reasons.  I don’t think there are many that would dispute the reasons for the indictments — not in the least, so, there is a positive.  Plus, I think people WILL be watching this situation.  

    I get the feeling that you are suggesting that a “failure” in this effort would preclude any and all such future efforts.  I can only hope that you are totally wrong and that people “will see through the maze” and not be dissuaded in the future.

    One last thought, are you suggesting that this might be a “contrived” effort?  I have thought of that possibility, as well.  Particularly, since the indictments emanate from Texas. But, there, again, some Texans have become vehement in their sentiments re the Bush Administration.

  2. You credit them for something that, to be blunt, they don’t have the wit and intelligence to plan.

    Guerra has no credibility.  And no smarts.  The theory of this indictment, as I said in a comment yesterday, doesn’t pass the laugh test, i.e. it’s a joke.  Nobody, and I do mean nobody thinks this indictment, to use a texas cliche, is “worf a cup of warm spit.”  Or as they say in NY, “You could indict a ham sandwich.”  So you can certainly indict Cheney on this cockamamie theory.  

    Fact is that Cheney has committed prisoner abuse and war crimes and should be indicted for that.  This Texas sideshow will have imo absolutely no impact on that at all.  This indictment isn’t going to make it past the first hurdle, it’s DOA.  We need a real prosecutor to step up.  

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