Well, Manuel Noriega's sentence has run out before his heart has, so he has been whisked off to pursue this end in another dark place.
Chris Floyd, of Empire Burlesque, comments (excerpts follow, emphasis mine, and of course read the whole thing):
...Noriega, who had been a CIA "asset" since the late 1950s, carried on his yeoman service on behalf of his new bosses for awhile – but the assumption of formal power went to his head. He forgot he was a servant, was surly with his masters, and finally crossed the line: refusing to take part in the secret terrorist war that Reagan and Bush were waging, with Iranian money, against Nicaragua. Suddenly, Noriega's manifold crimes and massive corruption, which Washington had tolerated – indeed rewarded – for decades, suddenly became matters of urgent concern. Noriega went from imperial pet to "new Hitler" in fairly short order...Noriega was a despicable, opportunistic distortion of a human being - indeed, iconographic of our own "shadow" government, which prized such perturbated hearts in the furtherance of its (our) darker ends. Nothing to look up to here, nothing to admire.
Noriega's case reminds us of the cynical and brutal nature of the American empire's actual operations. Not the gauzy pictures painted by the increasingly all-pervading "psy-ops" warfare conducted by our militarist honchos to control the "information battlespace" of the American mind (as powerfully detailed in a new piece by Tom Hayden), but the genuine blood-soaked filth and crime which undergirds "the shining city on a hill." This is not old news or ancient history: it is happening today, all over the world, in shadows and corners we will never see – except in stolen glimpses revealed by accident, or by leaks from one pack of courtiers trying to bring down another, or through diligent efforts of a handful of journalists and investigators, and the enormous courage of some survivors and eyewitnesses to the operations of power.
The rise of Barack Obama to temporary management of the imperial enterprise has changed nothing of this...
Yet, the treatment of this criminal (of the lowest order) is no different than that given Mandela and other political prisoners.
Aside from the lust for a full-throated outing of our government's (our) misadventures, this human being - yes, human being - deserves the same kind of outcry the better angels among us afforded more saintly dissidents. It matters not that his dissidence involved his parochial and selfish fantasies, it still stands as a political imprisonment.
Odd and improbable, yes. Yet, the truth remains. A thug can be a martyr, too.