Wall Street Journal on Noriega October 23, 1989 In the course of his recent Wall Street Jo

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Wall Street Journal on Noriega October 23, 1989 In the course of his recent Wall Street Journal expose of the political history of General Manuel Antonio Noriega, Frederick Kempe observes: Before American foreign policy set out to destroy Noriega, it helped create him out of the crucible of Panama's long history of conspirators and pirates. For most of the past 30 years, the marriage was one of convenience. In 1960, for example, when Mr. Noriega was both a cadet at an elite military academy in Peru and a spy-in-training for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, he was detained by Lima authorities for allegedly raping and savagely beating a prostitute, according to a U.S. Embassy cable from that period. The woman had nearly died. But U.S. Intelligence, rather than rein in or cut loose its new spy, merely filed the report away. Mr. Noriega's tips on emerging leftists at his school were deemed more important to U.S. interests. (Oct.18, 1989) Kempe reports that Noriega was but one of a covey of dictators (including the Shah of Iran, Nicaragua's Anastasio Somoza, Marcos in the Philippines, and Duvalier in Haiti) whose power formed part of the nexus of American foreign policy. According to "former U.S. intelligence officials," Noriega's ties to the American espionage began in 1959, while he was a student at "the French-modeled" Chorrillos Military Academy in Lima. His half brother, Luis Carlos Noriega Hurtado, a Panamanian diplomat in Peru, relayed Tony's reports on his fellow students, the officers and instructors in the school. Mr. Noriega's relationship to American intelligence agencies became contractual in either 1966 or 1967 intelligence officials say. His commanding officer at the Chiriqui Province garrison, Major Omar Torrijos, gave him an intriguing assignment: Mr. Noriega would organize the province's first intelligence service. The spy network would serve two clients: the Panamanian government, by monitoring political opponents in the region, and the U.S., by tracking the growing Communist influence in the unions organized at United Fruit Co.'s banana plantations in Bocas del Toros and Puerto Armuelles. Two years earlier, in 1964, Capt. Noriega, chief of the transit police in David City, had organized an informants network among taxi drivers in the provincial capital: "He knew which local luminaries had been caught driving drunk, which had been found with their mistresses." In 1967, having learned through this source that one union leader was having an affair with the wife of his deputy, Noriega used the information to divide union leaders in Puerto Armuelles, a town dominated by the United Fruit company. Power brought out the perverse in Noriega's personality: Rodrigo Miranda, a local lawyer and human-rights monitor, recalls an intoxicated Noriega visiting prisoners in their cells at the 5th Zone Garrison headquarters in David...Mr. Noriega would order them all to take off their clothes and run around the courtyard naked, laughing at them and then retreating to his office. "People started wondering if something was wrong with him," Mr. Miranda recalls. However, "...as far as the U.S. military was concerned, Mr. Noriega was a model recruit." In 1967, he received training in psychological operations at Fort Bragg, N.C. and attended a two-month course in military intelligence at the School of the Americas in Panama. In 1970, Noriega became chief of intelligence in Panama, expanding his contacts to the Cubans, the Israelis, the Taiwanese and others. State Department officials became wary of Noriega because of his ability "`to simultaneously milk the antagonistic intelligence services of Cuba and the United States,' recalls Francis J. McNeil, who, as deputy assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs, first ran across reports from Mr. Noriega in 1977." At state, they began to refer to Noriega as "rent-a-colonel". Nixon's Drug Enforcement Agency was equally alarmed at some of Noriega's association: [the DEA] became dismayed at the extent of the [Panamanian] G-2's connections to arrested drug traffickers. One DEA agent drew up a list of five options for dealing with Col. Noriega, one of which was assassination. In 1976, U.S. intelligence "discovered that [Noriega] had been buying recordings of electronically monitored conversations from three sergeants working for the U.S. Army's 470th Military Intelligence Group. The tapes included wiretaps of Gen. Torrijos's own phone..." As a result, early in the Carter administration, the CIA's new director, Stansfield Turner cancelled its contract with Noriega. Carlos Wittgreen, a close friend and business partner of Noriega was one of five Panamanians indicted in southern Florida for illegally selling arms to the Sandinistas. Yet in 1979 when federal and county (Dade) authorities initiated a plan to arrest Noriega during a planned trip to the U.S. to meet with his counterpart in the Pentagon, the military foiled the plan by alerting Noriega. In January 1980, according to Jerome Sanford, an assistant U.S. attorney, the Justice Department had second thoughts as well about the arrest of Noriega when Panama granted asylum to the Shah of Iran. The indictments against Noriega and Wittgreen were dropped. In August 1983, Noriega assumed power in Panama. The Reagan administration...put Mr. Noriega's G-2 back on the U.S. payroll. Payments averaged nearly $200,000 a year from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA. [Nevertheless] During the Reagan years [Noriega] expanded his business and intelligence contacts with the Cubans and the Sandinistas. He allegedly entered into Panama's first formal business arrangement with Colombian drug bosses, according to Floyd Carlton, a pilot who once worked for Mr. Noriega... Noriega's "insurance policy" was his involvement with the Contras. [Jose] Blandon [a close ally of Noriega's] says the general allowed the Contras to set up a secret training center in Panama. Mr. Noriega also conveyed intelligence from his spy operation inside the Nicaraguan capital of Managua. And on at least one occasion, in the spring of 1985, he helped arrange a sabotage attack on a Sandinista arsenal in Nicaragua. Noriega also compromised U.S. officials: Curtin Windsor, then the ambassador to Costa Rica, recalls being invited to Panama by Mr. Noriega's brother Luis Carlos for a weekend of deep sea fishing and "quiet, serious conversation" on the Aswara Peninsula. Mr. Windsor notified Everett E. Briggs, the U.S. ambassador to Panama. of the invitation. "Briggs screamed," Mr. Windsor recalls. He says Mr. Briggs told him he was being set up for a "honey trap," in which Mr. Noriega would try to involve him in an orgy and then record the event "with sound and video." Noriega continued to court the Reagan Administration, contributing $100,000 to a Contra leader, according to documents released during the Oliver North trial. In late 1986, according to the same documents, he offered to assassinate the Sandinista leadership in exchange "for a promise to help clean up Noriega's image and a commitment to lift the ban on military sales to the Panamanian Defense Forces". North conveyed the offer to Elliot Abrams who passed it on to George Shultz. Shultz rejected the proposal. According to Kempe, the Iran-Contra scandal took away Noriega's insurance policy. --- thirdwnews carnet.panama 10:52 pm Nov 16, 1989 ============================================= from The NY Transfer BBS 718-448-2358 Source: NY OnLine BBS 718-852-2662


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