General Noriega Can Be Extradited to France

Bad news today for General Manual Noriega. The Supreme Court denied cert in his appeal of the 11th Circuit decision allowing France to extradite him to face trial on money laundering and drug charges there. (He was convicted in absentia but France has ordered a new trial.)

Scalia and Thomas would have granted cert. Noriega finished his 20 year drug sentence in 2007. He is the only prisoner in the U.S. classified as a "prisoner of war."

"Providing that guidance in this case would allow us to say what the law is without the unnecessary delay and other complications that could burden a decision on these questions in Guantanamo or other detainee litigation arising out of the conflict with al-Qaida," Thomas said in his dissent.


Noriega argued the Geneva Conventions treaties required the U.S. to return him to Panama:

Noriega's argument focused on the Geneva Conventions treaties regarding repatriation of POWs after wars end. Noriega's attorneys argued that the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and lower courts were wrong in ruling that Noriega could not use the treaties to block extradition to a third country such as France.

According to Frank Rubino, Noriega's lawer, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will now make the decision on whether to extradite Noriega. He thinks she will order him sent to France.

Rubino said the decision could set a dangerous precedent in which U.S. soldiers who are captured overseas face continual trials rather than being returned home when hostilities end. "We've sealed the fate of American soldiers by this decision," Rubino said.

Panama also is seeking to extradite Noriega, but they ceded to France. Noriega wants to return to Panama:

[A]ll he wants to do sit back on his rocking chair and enjoy his grandchildren.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Of what war is Noriega a Prisoner of (none / 0) (#1)
    by oculus on Mon Jan 25, 2010 at 11:42:58 AM EST

    The war we started to capture him! (none / 0) (#2)
    by ricosuave on Mon Jan 25, 2010 at 11:48:05 AM EST
    Isn't that convenient?

    Actually, I think this is a preview of the similar types of messes we will have in the future with our creatively detained Guantanameros.  When you get fancy trying to dance around your normal laws, eventually you will have to straighten it out.

    Of course in this case, we are just wondering where to send the guy and not how to keep him.

    Strange that Spain doesn't have a request out there for Noriega...they love this kind of stuff.


    The war of GHWB needing an (none / 0) (#3)
    by Farmboy on Mon Jan 25, 2010 at 11:51:30 AM EST
    object lesson for CIA assets (e.g., Hussein) that the US would be tough on other CIA assets who got out of line.

    Speaking of CIA assets and pissing off people (none / 0) (#11)
    by OldVirginian on Mon Jan 25, 2010 at 02:31:01 PM EST
    Well, according to John Perkins in his book, Secret History of the American Empire, he mentions something about Noriega pissing off Daddy Bush by having some kind of visual record of G.W. being very naughty on Contadora.

    Is there a place we could (none / 0) (#4)
    by jondee on Mon Jan 25, 2010 at 11:53:42 AM EST
    extradite the people responsible for murdering, maiming and traumatizing the thousands of innocent people in Panama who were the collateral casualties of Operation Just Cuz'(we can)?

    Noriega's main problem seems to be that he never had a firm grasp on the nuances of cold-blooded realpolitik, eg: how to napalm Cambodia and influence people; or, running Contra cocaine and Air America heroin for fun-and-profit.

    This guy obviously REALLY pissed off the wrong people. Probably because he wouldnt give up where all the money was stashed.

    At the time of the invasion (none / 0) (#13)
    by Ben Masel on Mon Jan 25, 2010 at 03:10:34 PM EST
    the price of a single kilo of coke on the NYC rock and roll scene had fallen to $8,000, down from $28,000 7 years earlier. All the profit was going to the retailer. You can't run secret wars on $8,000 kilos.

    The invasion was nothing more than a leveraged buyout of the competition.


    The 1989 Invasion of Panama (none / 0) (#5)
    by jbindc on Mon Jan 25, 2010 at 11:57:52 AM EST
    He's held as a POW under Article 3 of the Geneva Convention

    wait ... (none / 0) (#6)
    by nyrias on Mon Jan 25, 2010 at 12:41:45 PM EST
    "Noriega finished his 20 year drug sentence in 2007" so on top of being a PoW, he is also serving a normal felony sentence? (convicted by jury, right and follow all the due process, right?)

    His lawyer's argument about future US soldiers is not an argument about the law. It is an argument about what may or may not happen.

    If he is charged in France for a serious crime, and we have an extradition treaty with France, is there a compelling reason why we should not turn him over?

    While he may be a PoW, he is also a convicted felon, right? And the status as a PoW does not absolve him the crimes he may or may not have committed, which is for a french court to determine.

    Yes (none / 0) (#7)
    by jbindc on Mon Jan 25, 2010 at 12:51:19 PM EST
    He was convicted in 1992 on 9 counts of cocaine trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering and was sentenced to 40 years in prison (later reduced to 30 years).

    Correction (none / 0) (#8)
    by jbindc on Mon Jan 25, 2010 at 12:51:29 PM EST
    8 counts

    Thanks for the clarification (none / 0) (#9)
    by nyrias on Mon Jan 25, 2010 at 12:56:44 PM EST
    So he is not only a PoW, but also a foreign national who is a convicted felon.

    We should treat him as such.


    The US courts ruled (none / 0) (#12)
    by Peter G on Mon Jan 25, 2010 at 03:09:18 PM EST
    ... that Noriega remained a "prisoner of war," due to the circumstances of his capture, throughout the time he was serving his sentence for the drug smuggling conviction.

    Scalia and Thomas are truly judicial (none / 0) (#10)
    by oculus on Mon Jan 25, 2010 at 01:39:45 PM EST

    I'm sure he will (none / 0) (#14)
    by Radiowalla on Mon Jan 25, 2010 at 05:51:14 PM EST
    enjoy the jail food more in France.

    GHW bush is STILL afraid of what Noriega (none / 0) (#15)
    by Yes2Truth on Mon Jan 25, 2010 at 06:15:32 PM EST

    could say about him being "out of the loop" in the Iran-Contra scandal, U.S. involvement in drug
    smuggling, and lord only knows what else, except that it must be "heavy" if it was enough for GHW bush to order an operation that cost the lives of so many innocent people in Panama.