US government doesn’t trust Panama with espionage equipment

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Ricardo Martinelli, up to his neck in the drug business

The phone tapping scandal surrounding Procurador de la Administración Oscar Ceville is still heating up and yet we have another affair involving tapping phones and espionage: El Panama America reports that the US government tried to recoup espionage equipment it had previously donated to the intelligence service from the Panamanians.

The paper quotes an unnamed high-up government official as saying that the equipment was being put to bad use. The equipment was used to gather information about ongoing investigations and prosecutions of drug traffickers.

President Martinelli's cousin, treasurer of his political party and campaign finance manager Ramón Martinelli, is currently in prison in Mexico on charges of money laundering, together with other associates of the Panamanian president.

Costa Rican paper El País earlier reported that former security chief of the president, José Abel Almengor, removed incriminating evidence from case files tying Martinelli to drug money in the public ministry when he was a drug prosecutor. Almengor is now a Supreme Court magistrate.

According to El Panama America, the attempt to retake the equipment was made while Martinelli was at the United Nations in New York, in 2009. The source insisted that the equipment was further used for "political espionage".

The affair indicates that the illegal use of the equipment is on orders from high-up in Panama's government. After all, if this was just a case of a rogue employee selling data or anything like that, the pressure would have been to remove the bad apple. The attempt to retake the equipment however proves that the US government distrusts the entire Martinelli administration in their use of it.

And Martinelli? He responded in his classic "just blatantly lie in their face" way that has become the hallmark of his presidency, denying that the government has any equipment that can be used to tap phones. Needless to say that nobody believes him.

5 thoughts on “US government doesn’t trust Panama with espionage equipment

  1. When the Organized Forces inside Panama realize how bad situation is and how worse it can get, after they get out of their state of denial, may be we will see some changes in the Scene…
    The equipment was donated for the Public Attorney (Ministerio Público) to use it as an independent Entity… Wrong assumption, they are but RM´s Puppets…

  2. I remember a similar scandal about phone tapping equipment donated by the FBI, in 2000 or 1999 or thereabout, that was also used for political espionage. So that part isn’t new. But if it turns out that Martinelli is indeed using state intelligence to stay abreast of drug investigations that touch his relatives and business interests, that should be enough to scare the shit out of anyone, because it’s what Noriega did. Turning the state into a branch office of the drug trade.

  3. Does Panama actually have an intelligence division? A spy service?

    Panamanian Spy Tradecraft:

    ….A drop box in a hollowed out coconut still hanging on the tree.
    A UHF transmitter shaped like banana.

    Agents standing on strategic corners lifting their tee shirts and rubbing their bellies to an improvised morse code. Rub up:dot Rub round:dash.

    Messages passed by alternately timed testicle signals outside Minisuper Wu Gong. Squeeze testicles:safe to enter. Sratch testicles: mission aborted return to safe-house. Weigh testicles in palm: Agent continue operation.

    Ear signals serve as covert communications. Drill vigorously in ear with little finger= Coast is clear. Examine results of ear-mining on little finger= target has arrived.

    Standard Nose Code: Snot blown on street with left nostril plugged= cover blown. Snot blown on street with right nostril plugged=operation all clear, continue.

    Spooks in disguised in Bien cuida’o outfits pass information written on quarters.

    P.S. What puzzles me is: Who the US would deem to be a legitimate target for the spy equipment. sent ?

  4. Panama where they do not know how to load balance the routers or their servers!

    Let alone maintain advertised speeds!!

    WiFi that is under so powered and hard to find and use outside Panama city!

    Any knowledge gathering here is being done for personal profit, not for any type of national security.

    Any equipment acquired or donated would be out of service in no time do to a complete lack of maintenance, the personal to operate, batteries, batteries chargers, and spare parts.

    They have to hire Israeli agents just to monitor the aircraft and security of Martinelli himself!

    So, you figure out if these third world clowns can even fine a dog in the Kennel?

    “Panama where the numbers never add up”

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