According to Larry Birns, director of the Washington-based Council on Hemispheric Affairs, Noriega insisted to him that he had had the best of relations with Bush for years. But Noriega told Birns that at an airport meeting in Panama shortly before the invasion, he had had a spat with Vice President Dan Quayle when he refused to commit Panama to a more confrontational role in fighting against Washington’s Central American enemies. Birns, who was in Panama as Noriega’s “honorable enemy” guest only hours before the U.S. invasion and was arguably the last American to meet with Noriega before U.S. troops arrived, told me that the Panamanian strongman was bitter because after years of servitude to Washington’s various regional crusades, Bush was unceremoniously dumping him.
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