ACCESSION NUMBER:223540 FILE ID:AR-556 DATE:04/10/92 TITLE:(Following FS material not for publication) (04/10/92) TEXT:*92041056.ARF *ARF556 04/10/92* 1Following FS material not for publication) (FS) THE NORIEGA CONVICTION (04/10 WashPost edit) (420) The following editorial, "The Noriega Conviction," was published in the 10 April 92 issue of the Washington Post. (begin text) In the government's nightmare scenario, Gen. Noriega would have beat racketeering and drug charges in Miami and, although he might have been re-indicted or extradited, the United States would have suffered the immense embarrassment of seeing acquitted the man it invaded Panama to bring to trial. But it didn't turn out that way. Gen. Noriega yesterday was convicted on most of the charges brought against him. Some part of the Miami proceeding was exemplary. Gen. Noriega got a long and fair trial in which he had first-rate representation of his own choice. The judge hung on through a mid-trial heart operation, and the jury listened for seven months and worked out a severe split at the end. The conviction does not itself vindicate President Bush's invasion of Panama in December 1989. Formally, the invasion was not launched to unseat and nab Gen. Noriega but to see to the safety of U.S. citizens, the working of the Panama Canal and the integrity of the canal treaties. In the political context of the day, however, it mattered greatly that Gen. Noriega was not only a dictator who had thrown out the democratically elected leadership of Panama but was also an accused drug trafficker whose depredations had enormous consequences. The argument over the intervention was succeeded in most American and Latin quarters by relief or at least resignation that Panama had been given a new lease on democratic life -- a promise, unfortunately, that has been far from fully met. But that leaves the stunning evidence produced by the trial. We refer not simply to testimony that Gen. Noriega arranged for drug-and cash-laden planes to enter Panama, for large amounts of cocaine to be shipped to the United States and for profits to be laundered in Panamanian banks. The terrible thing was confirmation that this vile character was actually an American creature. The United States created him as a National Guard officer, and he became chief of Panamanian intelligence and worked for American intelligence on drug and political matters for some years, including the time when George Bush ran the CIA. It is a somber reproof to the United States that this man could have been on the American payroll for one day. (end text) NNNN .