It's not exactly about television, but...Eighteen years ago, as Hurricane Andrew barreled down on Miami, the federal Bureau of Prisons decided to move its most famous inmate to a slightly less meteorologically challenged spot. On the drive to Atlanta, one of the federal marshals guarding Manuel Noriega asked him about the final days of his Panamanian dictatorship, when the general strutted before TV cameras, smashing furniture with a machete and daring the gringos to come get him. What were you thinking, the perplexed marshal wondered. Replied the abashed Noriega: ``I guess I [bleeped] up.''
That's as good an epitaph as any for Noriega, packed off to face money-laundering charges in France last week after 20 years in American prisons. And he ought share it with the U.S. drug warriors who turned Panama into a nationwide shooting gallery 20 years ago in order to arrest Noriega.Their mutual self-delusion turned a metaphorical war on drugs into a brief but deadly real one that took hundreds of lives and cost hundreds of millions of dollars. The only beneficiaries have been Mexican undertakers, these days doing a brisk business with the side effects of the cocaine traffic that's been rerouted through their country from Panama. Read my full op-ed piece in Tuesday's Miami Herald.