The Devil They Knew

How Noriega was transformed from CIA asset to public enemy

As early as 1972, a U.S. antinarcotics official had a suggestion for cutting down the shipment of drugs through Panama into the U.S.: assassinate Manuel Antonio Noriega. Not only was that proposal rejected; some time later Noriega, then head of his country's intelligence service, went on the payroll of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Among his bosses: George Bush, director of the CIA in 1976. As late as 1983, Vice President Bush used Noriega to pass a message to Fidel Castro. And as late as 1987, the Reagan Administration was arguing that Noriega had been "fully cooperative" with U.S. antidrug efforts.


Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!