This Bureau has raised the question of how much then V.P. Bush knew about the operation, especially Noriegas involvement. Our documentation is ambiguous, but a central fact Is that Casey, concerned that the operation be as far removed from the CIA as possible, hit upon the idea of using the vice presidents office as a cover, arranging it via Bushs' Chief of Staff, Donal Gregg, a former CIA officer.
In return, Noriega was able to offer the Israelis the use of Panama....The Vienna of International intrigue in the Southern Hemisphere...as a conduit for embargoed arms to Israel.
When Casey sought out Harare in 1982 to help set up a covert contra support operation, the Israeli knew the perfect point man for the job...Noriega. He was now a General, and the most powerful man in Panama. At that point, Casey had been given secret intelligence reports gathered by the private "intelligence army" of General Ferrera, telling Casey, with proof, that Noriega was a full fledged drug trafficker, allowing Panama to be used as a narcotics trans-shipment point. The CIA could not allow this report from Ferrera to be seen, so Casey contacted Ferrera, and offered to make him his second in command in the Agency. Ferrera turned it down stating that he was going to commence to back off, so as to retire.... later, we intercepted a conversation between Ferrera and Helms, In which Ferrera stated that when Casey offered him something that big, there must be a reason for it, so he turned it down. Ferrera had his own "mole" with the government of Panama, Dr. Hugo Spandafora, Panamas vice-minister of Health, under dictator Omar Torrijos, also a friend of the Generals. Following the "unexplained" death of Torrijos in a plane crash, Spadafora at first allied himself with Noriega, then learned from Ferrera that Noriega was playing all sides of the street and into drug smuggling. Spadafora found out that Noriega was being paid $250,000 per year by casey as an asset for the CIA, while at the same time he was providing information to Fidel Castro, and worse, NORIEGA WAS DEEPLY INVOLVED IN THE DRUG TRAFFIC into the United States. This Bureau has copies of all documentation to substantiate all Information contained herein.
All of the above came to the attention of Helms, who did not know who was playing for whom. The only person that he felt placed the country above his personal gain was General Ferrera, so he enlisted the help of the General in digging everything out.
The General found out, with Spadafora, that as early as 1972 the CIA was aware that Noriega had been named in a Federal Drug enforcement report as a trafficker.