Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Where is Omar Torrijos When We Need Him?
Noriega is a very good example of just how far friends of the United States can fell when they fall out of favor. After Torrijos died in a 1981 plane crash, the cause of which is still unknown but widely suspected, Noriega eventually assumed power. He had none of the charisma of his former boss but maintained strongman rule until he was overthrown following the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989. Although he was an agent of the U.S. government, his predilection for violence and his close ties to drug traffickers, including the Medellin Cartel in Colombia, were too much of an embarrassment to Washington.
After serving 20 years in a federal prison in Florida, Noriega has now been extradited to France, where he is to be tried on separate drug-related charges there. He will likely die in prison. His case raises an interesting question: If our legal system says that the accused cannot be tried twice for the same crimes, why is it that someone can be tried multiple times for the same crimes simply by sending them to another country?
The case raises an additional question: What kinds of "friends" does the United States have today around the world?