April 28, 2010
The Guardian (UK)

Why Manuel Noriega Became America's Most Wanted

by Simon Tisdall

. . . Though he had no inkling of it that morning [in October 1989], Noriega's days in the sun were numbered. Two months later, Bush sent the American army to finish what the coup leaders began. After causing a large and still-disputed number of civilian deaths in the El Chorrillo neighbourhood around the comandancia, US forces hunted down Noriega, arrested him, put him on trial in Miami, and sentenced him to 40 years.

. . . Noriega was a thug. But for many years, he was America's thug - until he turned on his mentors. Trained in military and intelligence matters at the School of the Americas, he became for a time a valued CIA "asset" working for the agency and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. Government documents submitted to the Miami court in pre-trial hearings in 1991-92 confirmed that Noriega was paid (at least) $320,000 by the US government for services rendered.

Simply put, Noriega knew too much. He acted as a cold war listening post for the US during turbulent times in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, according to William [sic] Buckley's book, Panama: the Whole Story. He claimed to be an intermediary between then vice-president Bush and Fidel Castro in the 1980s. Noriega is also said to have met Bush, a former CIA director, personally on two occasions in 1976 and 1983.

. . . Nor was the new Panamanian government's demand that Noriega be returned there for trial accepted.

In Panama, Noriega would have been free to tell all he knew. And for many powerful men in Washington, some of whom are still alive, that prospect was potentially dangerous. The outcome of the Noriega case in Miami, like the 1989 invasion, was never in doubt from day one. It was a show trial, a warning to others. It was pure vengeance. It was a cover-up of decades of illicit regional meddling. But it was also a demonstration of raw American power, of which the world was soon to have more frightening examples.


The U.S. invasion of Panama took 10 times as many lives as Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. This Academy Award winning documentary, broadcast in more than 20 countries worldwide, Blue Ribbon winner at the American Film & Video Festival in 1993, and recipient of several international film awards, uncovers the true motivation for the invasion. It explains how and why the mainstream media collaborated with the U.S. Government to censor and selectively report information to deceive the American public just as they did during the February 1998 "crisis" over Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

VIDEO: "The Panama Deception," The Empowerment Project

[Dr Alford suggests the film may have implied the invasion was nothing more than a diversion that would allow the US into Panama to steal back incriminating photos of senior US officials that Noriega could have used as blackmail.--Mia De Graaf and Sean O'Hare "EXCLUSIVE: Screenwriter mysteriously killed in 1997 after finishing script that revealed the 'real reason' for US invasion of Panama had been working for the CIA... and both his hands were missing," January 18, 2015

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