March 8, 1997
“Ex-Prez Lied About His CIA Era Links With Me”
The article featured a photograph of then-Vice President George H.W. Bush, seated with Noriega at a meeting at the airport in Panama City in 1983.
Cindy Adams notes that, in 1988, as the drug accusations against Noriega were flying around, Vice President Bush had publicly stated: “I never met General Noriega.”
Noriega told Adams that he had, in fact, held three face to-face meetings with Bush- all at Bush’s initiative; the first was on December 8, 1976, when Bush was the director of the CIA. At Bush’s behest, Noriega had previously refrained from detailing his personal contacts with the ex-CIA chief.
“I am optimistic that God is leading me very near to the door of freedom. I am not that ridiculous image of a man waving a machete. These are insane images used by George Bush to soften the public for the carnage that took place when they invaded my country in 1989 and imprisoned me. They created the image of a mad dictator who dared challenge the supremacy of the United States.”
Asked by Adams whether Bush had played a role in the covert arms deals involving Iran, the Nicaraguan Contras, etc., the general replied:
“Oliver North was in charge of the Contras for Bush. Oliver North was not the architect of the Iran-Contra operation, only the messenger. However, make no mistake, he was the messenger for Bush. Bush recruited Panamanian pilots to provide the Contras with arms. Bush was the one to provide the list of Panamanian pilots who were working with the U.S. government.”
And who were the Bush-picked pilots? As Noriega notes in his memoirs, “The pilots included such men as Jorge Canalias, Floyd Carlton Caceres, Cesar Rodriguez and Teofilo Watson, future cocaine traffickers transporting Contra weapons in exchange for cocaine.”