Panamanian General Manuel Noriega: American Scapegoat!
He died, R.I.P. at 83 years old. I am proud to say that I knew General Manuel Noriega. I am not sure he would have said the same for me. This is what transpired between him and me in 1989 just before the largest American military assault since the Vietnam War.
I had been sent to Panama by certain senior State Dept./Military officials. I flew down in a private CIA jet to meet with Noriega and ask him to leave the country voluntarily. I was sent because I spoke Spanish [born in Cuba]. More importantly, Noriega knew a bit about my past history in other parts of the world when I would offer a dictator/President a favorable opportunity to leave before the shit really starts hitting the fan.
One could say that I was the counterpart [Consigliere] to Tom Hagen in the “Godfather”. Remember the scene when Tom is sent to L.A. to ask a ‘favor from studio head’ [Cohen of Columbia Pictures]. Certain unfortunate incidents would subsequently arise if Noriega refused my official offer to leave Panama without any problems.
So Noriega and I met at around midnight at a Safe House [CIA/MI] without his usual Israeli-trained bodyguards. Yes, once again, Israel sticks their nose into areas within which they don’t belong. I was accompanied by a very talented DIA officer whom Noriega and I trusted.
Over a three hour period, Noriega offered me tea, coffee, and even soup. When we spoke it felt to me as if we had been friends for years. He was a bit nervous. I saw that he was hesitant to ask me questions about myself despite the fact that I knew he had wanted to become a psychiatrist. Yet when he did speak, it was a major revelation about my own country and its leaders.
I was not naïve but what he taught me that night has always remained with me as if he were my preceptor in psychoanalysis. He spoke cogently and forcefully without any sign of rancor. He explained to me how VP Bush Sr. and his family had been involved in the drug trade for decades. He could not understand why the CIA wanted him to leave Panama when he had worked for them for years, if not decades.
He admitted that he had been transporting drugs on behalf of Bush Sr. and the CIA. He also declared openly that he had worked for many worldwide intelligence organizations, including the Mossad. Not much of what he had told me was a surprise. Yet, I will never forget one lasting comment he had made to me.
He said the following:
“That worst thing to become is an ally or friend of America. Then they get rid of you.”
Years later, I thought back to Noriega when Saddam Hussein was overthrown by Bush Sr. and Bush Jr. Similarly, when HRC overthrew Qaddafi, I immediately realized that Panetta [Sec Def] and Gen. Petraeus [DCI] were easily co-opted by POTUS Obama and his CIA handlers. These entities created the same scenario of befriending a dictator and then overthrowing him through dirty tricks.
Later, Noriega would incriminate Robert Mueller FBI Director as a patsy for the Bush family; as well as, FBI Director Louis J. Freeh [also appointed by Bush Sr/Clinton], a ‘made man’ and an Eagle Scout, working on behalf of the Jewish/Italian NJ mobsters [Lansky/Luciano/ “Longie” Zwillman].
Needless to say, Noriega turned down my offer to leave Panama safely which included taking his wife, his mistress Vicky and his children to live in one of his villas in France. The following days became hell on wheels for him and me.
As was the habit by the houseboy for the Bush’s, a certain General Collin Powell threw me off the Army base Ft Amador. With the help of the DIA, we broke into the fort and started printing illegal pamphlets portraying Noriega as ‘the Pineapple Dictator’. Eventually, I found myself living in an apartment just beneath Noriega’s mistress in Panama City.
My agitprop consisting of riots, tires filled with gasoline lit up like a torch of defiance was destroyed by his thugs and the Panamanian Defense Force [PDF]. Every single day that I was rumbling in the streets with my newly recruited ‘freedom fighters’, I was also accused in his newspaper [La Critica] of being an assassin who had killed scores of people [needlessly of course].
One day, I received a call from a prominent Ambassador of INR who ordered me to come back home ASAP! I continued my street Agitation Propaganda alongside General Mark Cisneros, an incredibly talented, savvy SOUTHCOM Commander who always wondered why General Colin Powell sent an invasion force of 27,684 American soldiers into Panama completely unwarranted.
I was flown back by a commercial airline pilot who also served in the National Guard. It turned out he was the A/A pilot on my morning flight. Within a few days, I was brought into the WH by Donald Gregg, a senior CIA official for whom I had an immense amount of respect. He was trying to inform me that I was in the process of spoiling the VP’s plan for the massive American invasion of Panama.
From that time onward, I have always thought kindly of Noriega. He was a formidable adversary who had the nasty habit of telling the truth … and worse yet, he acted upon it… defying the very men who had placed him into power.
May he R.I.P!
To all those potential foreign allies in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, EU, and even Israel: Remember this: America is a two-faced ally who can never be trusted. Words of wisdom from a man who experienced it with his life!
The famous Panamanian actor, Ruben Blades, said the following:
“At a certain point, people in Panama thought that everything was going to be solved as soon as Noriega was gone. Of course, the disappointment was huge.”