Dictator, gangster and spy

Monday 10pm  DICTATOR’S PLAYBOOKHistory/Documentary – Learn how six dictators, from Mussolini to Saddam Hussein, shaped the 20th century. How did they seize and lose power? What forces were against them? Learn the answers in these six immersive hours, each a revealing portrait of brutality and power.

Manuel Noriega – Watch Manuel Noriega rise through the Panamanian military to become chief of intelligence – and then, military dictator. He spied for the United States, but in the end, money laundering, drug trafficking and political crimes led to his downfall.


As a young man, Manuel Noriega faced discrimination that prevented him from achieving his dreams. But he persevered, rising through the military to become the country’s chief of intelligence—and then, its military dictator. He spied for the United States, which saw him as a valuable contributor in its battle against communism—but in the end, his money laundering, drug trafficking, and political crimes brought a sudden end to his dictatorship.

The Road to Dictatorship

  • As a young army colonel, Noriega found a mentor in General Omar Torrijos, who later seized power in a military coup—with Noriega’s help.
  • Noriega took power for himself after Torrijos died in a mysterious plane crash in 1981. He assumed the top position in the military, effectively ruling the country alongside a series of puppet presidents.
  • Noriega used his position to eliminate his enemies, attack the press and enrich himself through blatant criminal activities.
  • When he no longer served the interests of the United States, the US captured him in an invasion—its largest since the Vietnam War.
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