The MP of Panama…

Oh, this brings back some interesting memories

When the skeletal remains of Hollywood screenwriter Gary Devore were found strapped into his Ford Explorer submerged beneath the California Aqueduct in 1998 it brought an end to one of America’s most high profile missing person cases.

The fact that Devore was on his way to deliver a film script that promised to explain the ‘real reason’ why the US invaded Panama, has long given rise to a slew of conspiracies surrounding the nature of his ‘accidental’ death.

It didn’t help that Devore’s hands were missing from the crash scene, along with the script, and that investigators could offer no plausible explanation as to how a car could leave the highway and end up in the position it was found a year after he disappeared.

Now the Daily Mail can exclusively reveal that Devore was working with the CIA in Panama and even a White House source concedes his mysterious death bears all the hallmarks of a cover-up.

It doesn’t say when Devore was in Panama (the piece focuses far too much on his fame, and not enough on what might have gotten him killed) — or I couldn’t find it, and maybe I’m not paying attention — but it reminds me of something that happened in late 1986.

I was in Panama (for a brief rundown on my miserable military experience in Panama, please read my book!) serving as a lowly legal clerk for Headquarters Company, Law Enforcement Activity. The battalion of three military police companies was responsible for security and, to a lesser extent, intelligence gathering. Mostly, it was just MP’s doing the dull task of making sure the bases were secure, infantrymen from the 193rd Infantry Brigade didn’t beat themselves too senseless on weekends they came back from jungle training, and making sure the Panamanians didn’t rob us blind.

But one week, sometime late in 1986, three Americans — all men — showed up at our unit, wearing plain clothes (and looking, in their white cotton pants and floral shirts, like refugees from various Jimmy Buffet songs or that bad softcore porn USA Networks used to run late nights) and mirrored aviator sunglasses. Their hair was not military regulation and they had the run of Ft. Clayton, and HQ Company in particular. I think it was three, it may have been more. (I bring this up because Devore looks vaguely like one of those men.)

At any rate, these guys were something of an exotic mystery. They could go wherever they wanted, were frequently in the company of our battalion intelligence officer (or the first sergeant, who never seemed happy about it, though he rarely seemed happy about anything), and could commandeer our resources at a whim. Who were they? There was a lot of speculation, but most of us concluded they were CIA.

One evening, one of the men was hanging around the day room chatting with us. Mostly, they kept to themselves, but this one guy, with the dark curly hair, was more talkative. He bought us all beer (which was no big deal, since a can of beer could be had for a quarter in one of several vending machines), and then proceeded to tell us what he was here for. He couldn’t confirm that he was CIA, of course. But he winked.

At any rate, he told us the following: there’s a reason the US government allowed all the drug running and money laundering to go in Panama. It was a way to observe networks, figure out who is who and what is what. Nothing happens in Panama that the United States government doesn’t know about. It was well-known Manuel Noriega was a drug runner and a money launderer, because we let him set that business up so we could figure out how it worked. We’d been in Panama for 80 years at that point, we knew the country well. He even said there were Cuban troops working with the Panamanian Defense Forces to train and equip them, and we allowed this in order to see how the Cuban army works.

I cannot testify to the truth of anything he said. In memory, he comes off as a bit of a blowhard, and he may have simply been talking shit to impress a bunch young soldiers who didn’t know any better. The world is like that.

He wouldn’t say why he was there in Panama, and the three of them soon left. They were only with us for a week or so. And we got on with the business of policing American forces in Panama.