Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales have been indicted by a grand jury for illegal detention practices! Time for some celebratory terrorist fist jabs!
Not so fast, champ. Cheney and Gonzales have been indicted in a South Texas county, and it has nothing to do with Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, or black sites. Cheney was indicted because he invests in the Vanguard Group, which holds financial interests in private prison companies that run holding pens for illegal immigrants in South Texas. (This is a booming business in the Lone Star state; we’ve written about it before.) Gonzales was indicted because he allegedly used his position while in office to stop a 2006 investigation into abuses at one of these privately-run prisons.
Conditions at these places are pretty awful, but that doesn’t mean Cheney and Gonzales should somehow end up in jail. The always-delightful Will Bunch gives us all the reasons:
Dick Cheney is not going to jail, not any time soon, at least, and not because of the bizarre report that the vice president of the United States has been indicted in a small, obscure county deep in the heart of South Texas in a scandal over federal prison and detention abuses there. Aside from the obvious fact that a Willacy County, Texas, grand jury lacks authority over federal actions, the indictment of Cheney, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and other is not even signed by a judge, and the result of a wacky — controversial wouldn’t do the man justice — renegade lame duck DA. It’s almost not even worth noting that Cheney’s alleged tie — investing his millions in Vanguard mutual funds that are major owners of publicly traded federal prison contractors — is weak beyond belief; by the grand jury’s reasoning, one could surmise that others with Vanguard 401K plans (example: journalists at the Philadelphia Daily News and Inquirer!) could be charged as well.
The lesson? You shouldn’t give a law degree to just anybody. This prosecutor and Alberto Gonzales both prove that.