153. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to Vice President Mondale 1

SUBJECT

  • Panama: Sabotage Planning

[1 line not declassified] there was an item on the above subject.2 You asked what are we doing about this.

On March 10, Stan Turner provided me additional information on the subject. This information is attached. Also, an additional item [1 line not declassified] That report3 stated that [less than 1 line not declassified] called on the Panamanian Intelligence Chief—Lt. Col. Noriega—on the pretext of seeking further information concerning the alleged plan of anti-Castro exiles to place bombs in the Zone. Noriega was told, and appeared to agree, that any bombing would almost surely be blamed on Panama with dire effects on ratification prospects.

[Page 394]

I am of the opinion that Noriega got the message [less than 1 line not declassified] was sending. Stan Turner will continue to monitor this situation.

Please let me know if you have additional thoughts on this subject.

Attachment

Memorandum 4

SUBJECT

  • Panama—Possible Sabotage Planning

1. [1 line not declassified] reports that the National Guard has been conducting an extensive demolition course at a Panamanian military base. This would explain at least in part the recent withdrawal of a large amount of TNT from a Panamanian explosives factory and the unusual activity of members of the commando sabotage team, who would be involved in the courses. This information would further incline us to view the recent activity as a training/contingency effort with a view toward the possibility of action should the treaties be voted down.

2. However, some of the information such as [1 line not declassified] Intelligence Chief Lt. Col. Noriega had hurriedly cancelled an operation scheduled for the night of 22 February—does not support a contingency training scenario. This means we cannot rule out that the Panamanians were considering some action.

3. The Panamanians may be engaging in some of these activities in order to unsettle the US in the hope of generating greater US government efforts in behalf of the treaties.

4. We expect to receive a further report [1 line not declassified] today and will immediately provide that information to you.5

  1. Source: Carter Library, Papers of Walter F. Mondale, Box 65, Foreign Countries—Panama Canal, (3–6/1978). Secret; Sensitive.
  2. Not found.
  3. Not found.
  4. Secret; [handing restriction not declassified].
  5. [text not declassified].