Ousted Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega said the CIA used him to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to Nicaraguan Contra leaders, according to sanitized court documents made public Wednesday.
Sections of the 107-page secret document, prepared by Noriega's defense lawyers, were released after U.S. government officials deleted parts of it to protect top-secret information.Noriega will face cocaine trafficking and money laundering charges in a trial set to begin July 22 that could reveal information embarrassing for the Bush and Reagan administrations.
Describing Noriega as a conduit for CIA funding, the document said Noriega "provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to (Contra leader Eden) Pastora. This money was provided to Noreiga by the CIA in cash."
The document recounted Noriega's role with U.S. intelligence agencies over nearly three decades while working for G-2, the Panamanian intelligence agency that operated under former head of state Omar Torrijos.
The document said Noriega's activities included receiving payments from the Central Intelligence Agency of more than $11 million for intelligence services, as has previously been asserted by defense attorney Frank Rubino.
"The money was virtually unaccountable in the CIA's budget and was invisible from outside the CIA," the document said.
"It was officially justified as support for `institutional cooperation,' but in fact it was a slush fund turned over to the head of the cooperating intelligence agency to do with as he desired," the document said.
The document said Noriega spoke often with U.S. officials about the Nicaraguan Contras' activities and suggested he met with the late CIA director, William Casey, and former U.S. National Security Council adviser Oliver North.
North reportedly told Noriega to call if he needed help, according to the document.
Noriega repeated an earlier accusation that the CIA plotted to kill Torrijos, who died in a plane crash in 1981. Noriega also mentioned an assassination plot noted in a Drug Enforcement Administration report but did not provide many details.