“Noriega exposes Bush as cocaine kingpin on national television” by Jeffrey Steinberg
Noriega exposes Bush as cocaine kingpin on national television
by Jeffrey Steinberg
Jailed former Panamanian Armed Forces head Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega has joined the growing chorus of prominent voices publicly condemning George Bush for his involve ment in drug trafficking, murder, and political persecution during his 12-year tenure as Vice President and President of the United States.
In his soon-to-be-released autobiography, and in recent interviews with CBS News’s “Sixty Minutes” and the New York Post’s Cindy Adams, General Noriega has again detailed his long-standing personal experiences with George Bush, revealing the real reasons that, as President, Bush deployed tens of thousands of U.S. troops to Panama to carry out his “arrest,” and providing new corroboration that Bush was, as EIR has documented, the cocaine kingpin of the 1980s.
These latest Noriega revelations add to the growing vol ume of evidence that, under the December 1981 Executive Order 12333, and National Security Decision Directive 3, then-Vice President Bush was placed in charge of a clandes tine enterprise, headquartered in his White House office, that carried out high crimes and misdemeanors, under the fraudu lent protective coloration of “national security.”
Among the crimes of the Bush-led enterprise were:
• The decade-long campaign, launched in the summer of 1982, to destroy the political movement and publishing enterprises of political economist Lyndon LaRouche. The Bush-led effort, launched at the behest of Henry A. Kissinger and his backers in London, involved the abuse of EO 12333, to conduct a judicial frame-up of LaRouche and a score of his associates, using the corrupt “permanent bureaucracy” of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI, and a White House-based “public diplomacy” black pro paganda unit, which planted thousands of false stories about LaRouche in major U.S. and international media outlets, to brainwash the population into accepting the brutal elimina tion of “the LaRouche factor.”
On Oct. 6, 1986, over 400 heavily armed federal, state, and local law enforcement agents, backed up by special war fare units of the Pentagon, carried out a military-style raid on the offices and residence of LaRouche and his associates in Leesburg, Virginia, in an effort to “judicially” execute LaRouche. When the effort failed, the Bush team resorted to the fallback option of the judicial frameup. Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, in testimony before an independent commISSIOn on Sept. 1, 1994, described the LaRouche case as the most egregious instance of sustained prosecutorial abuse that he had ever encountered.
• The facilitating of the illegal drug epidemic of the 1980s. In his capacity as the actual director of covert warfare, anti-narcotics, anti-terrorism, and continuity of government during the Reagan Presidency, George Bush personally over saw the Nicaraguan Contra arms-for-cocaine operations, and the even more extensive Afghansi arms-for-heroin opera tions, which financed the not-so-secret wars in Central America and West Asia. (For the most thorough documenta tion of Bush’s role in the drug epidemic, see EIR’s Special Report, “Would a President Bob Dole Prosecute Drug Super Kingpin George Bush?” September 1996.)
• The delivery of Mexico and Panama to the hands of the Colombian drug cartels. In the case of Mexico, during the Presidency of Bush’s hand-picked stooge, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, nationalist leaders, like oil workers union figure Joaquin Hernandez Galicia (known as “La Quina”), who at tempted to resist the narco-takeover, were railroaded into prison or silenced through violent means.
Noriega speaks out
General Noriega is America’s only official prisoner of war. Following the Dec. 20, 1989 U.S. military invasion of Panama, ostensibly to serve an arrest warrant on the Panama nian head of state, based on bogus drug-trafficking charges, Noriega was taken to the U.S. and tried in federal court in Miami, Florida and convicted. He was officially classed by the court as a prisoner of war, and, he is, to this day, allowed to wear his Panamanian Defense Forces uniform, as he serves a 40-year sentence, and awaits the next phase of his appeal.
On March 9, 1997, CBS News’s “Sixty Minutes” aired a 12-minute interview with General Noriega, on the occasion of the publication of his autobiography, The Memoirs of Manuel Noriega, America’s Prisoner (with Peter Eisner, New York: Random House, 1997). In the interview, Noriega identified the real reason that he was targetted by George Herbert Walker Bush: On two occasions, he had dared to say “no” to Bush emissaries. The first occasion involved his decision to shut down the School of the Americas, a military counterin surgency training center in Panama run by the Pentagon. The second instance involved the Nicaraguan Contras.
From the broadcast:
MorleySafer: “Noriega says Oliver North, working with Adm .John Poindexter, President Reagan’s national security adviser, tried to get Noriega to help in a secret war against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and the rebels in EI Salvador.”
Manuel Noriega: “The second ‘no’ was Poindexter; when Poindexter was saying, ‘We need Panama as a spear head against Nicaragua.’ So that the United States can go ahead and carry out an invasion. But Noriega said, ‘no.’ Now I became unfriendly. Now, I was considered ugly….”
Safer: “Peter Eisner is Noriega’s co-author.He says he has little doubt that the campaign against Noriega had little basis in solid fact.Washington leaked stories about his drug deals, stories with very little foundation…. The campaign of vilification, says Noriega, was bought, hook, line, and sinker, by the opposition press in Panama, and by American reporters. The conspiracy, he said, became the obsession of one man.”
Noriega: “George Herbert Bush.”
Safer: “In early ’88, a 30-page drug indictment was drawn up.It took 25,000 troops and Stealth bombers to bring Noriega to trial.”
Safer then presented some startling evidence: that it was actually Bush and the U.S.Department of Justice-not No riega-who were caught in bed with the Cali, Colombia drug cartel.
Safer: “Carlos Lehder, the drug kingpin who’d never met Noriega, testified against him, and.his sentence was reduced. More than half the witnesses were convicted felons. The gov ernment’s so-called dynamite witness was a trafficker named Ricardo Bilonick, who simply gave himself up and offered to testify …. Frank Rubino, Noriega’s lead attorney, says Bilonick was so important to the case that the government made a real sweetheart deal with him. Instead of facing 20 years, he did 24 months…. But there was more. If Bilonick testified against Noriega, the U.S. government would reduce the sentence of one Luis Santa Cruz Echevery, a convicted trafficker and half-brother of a member of the Cali Cartel. But what was in it for Bilonick to give up his freedom in Panama?” Frank Rubino: “Ricardo Bilonick was paid by the Cali Cartel, $1,250,000, to testify against General Noriega, and was also told that he basically had one of two choices: He could collect the million-and-a-quarter, he could come and testify, or he could be buried here.”
Safer: “So, in effect, a cynic would say that the U.S.
Justice Department and the Cali Cartel were in cahoots to nail Noriega.”
Peter Eisner: “Not only a cynic, but the lawyer for the Cali Cartel said-wrote in a letter-that we must keep this quiet.”
Safer: “Because, the letter to the U.S.Justice Department went on to say, ‘the appearance will be that you have made a deal with the Cali Cartel.’ “
As events proved, following the invasion of Panama and the overthrow of Noriega, it was, ultimately, George Bush who had the deal with the Cali Cartel. The government that Bush handpicked and installed in Panama City was domi nated, from President Guillermo Endara, to Attorney General Cruz, to Chief Justice Lopez Tejada, by leading assets of the Cali Cartel.
A most damning photograph
The day after the “Sixty Minutes “ interview was aired, the New York Post published a column by Cindy Adams, based on a March 8, 1997 telephone interview with Noriega.
The article appeared under the banner headline, “Noriega Does Machete Job on Bush-’Ex-Prez Lied About His C IA Era Links With Me.’ “ The article featured a photograph of then-Vice President Bush, seated with Noriega at a meeting at the airport in Panama City in 1983.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 Dec. 8, 1976, when Bush was the director of the C IA. At Bush’s behest, Noriega had previously refrained from de tailing his personal contacts with the ex-CIA chief.But, 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 opera tion, 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 Canal ias, Floyd Carlton Caceres, Cesar Rodriguez and Teofilo Wat son, future cocaine traffickers transporting Contra weapons in exchange for cocaine.”
EIR’s September 1996 Special Report provided further background on some of these men: “American officials al ready knew that Carlton had been arrested on a drug flight in Peru during the 1970s. Watson was employed by Diacsa, a Miami-based company owned by Carlton and convicted drug-trafficker Alfredo Caballero, who had been contracted to deliver ‘humanitarian aid’ to the Contras by the State De partment’s Elliott Abrams. Watson died when his drug-laden plane crashed at the Costa Rica ranch of John Hull, which was a center for the Contra supply effort… . Rodriguez was later executed in Medellin, Colombia, in March 1986, in a drug deal gone sour.”
Carlton Caceres was one of the witnesses that the Bush Justice Department called to testify against Noriega. Under cross-examination, Watson admitted that he was angry at No riega because Noriega had cooperated with Costa Rican offi cials in prosecuting him on drug charges. He also admitted, under oath, that he had delivered arms to the Contras in 1983–84, while smuggling cocaine from Medellin into the United States.
An appeal has been filed on behalf of General Noriega before the U.S. Appeals Court, based on the recent revelations of the Justice Department-Cali Cartel collusion, in obtaining the tainted testimony of Bilonick. In his interview with Adams, Noriega summed up his view of his situation:
“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.
“Why, after being the man the U.S. could count on, did I become the enemy? Because I said no to Panama being a staging base for Salvadoran death squads and the Nicara guan Contras.
“So they found something horrible to call me. A drug dealer. How do you deal with one who defies you? Destroy him. Plus you factor in a gutless man of weak character, a hypocrite, a liar, a George Bush.”