Panama's fugitive former president, Ricardo Martinelli is reportedly bragging to his supporters that he will never be extradited from the United States, to face justice in his own country. Admittedly, there have been unexplained delays in what is generally an efficient and smooth process in the US. What is taking so long ?
When a Federal judge, in Florida, ordered Martinelli's extradition, months ago, the US Secretary of State failed to implement that decision, which is curious. Then, Martinelli's army of attorneys, including a former US Attorney, filed a petition for a Writ of Habeus Corpus, seeking, on procedural grounds, to block his extradition, causing still further delays. Oral Argument on the petition has been scheduled for later this month.
\Was the petition filed for purely dilatory reasons, as many Panama watchers believe, or is there something darker here ? Cynical Panama observers believe that the real reason the petition, and all supporting documents, are unavailable to the public and press is that some of the allegations in the petition are eight extremely embarrassing to the United States Government, or contain classified information which can not be exposed.
(1) Was Ricardo Martinelli, art some point in his dirty, corrupt career, a Confidential Informant for an agency of US law enforcement, or an intelligence service ? We know that many unsavory Latin American characters supply actionable intelligence to the United States, either to obtain immunity from prosecution, or for money, and his makes most Americans uncomfortable, as we then support what is generally a corrupt status quo.
(2) Or is it something even worse ? Has Martinelli, in his desperation to avoid Panamanian justice for his crimes, played his trump card, a disclosure that will shake the confidence Americans have in their government, and its operations overseas ? Will the hearing on the petition be closed to the press and public for that reason ? If so, what about government in the sunshine ?
(3) Lastly, is this simply a bluff by Martinelli, allegations made, in the petition, concerning disclosures that he has threatened to make, if extradited, which could harm American foreign policy goals in Latin America ? Is he threatening to expose some classified, dark American operation overseas ?
Alas, we cannot prove, or disprove, any of the above three theories, without access to the court files and the pleadings contained therein. Whether this is simply much ado about nothing, or a serious problem for the US Attorney General, we cannot say, but we will be watching.