Kenneth Freed's article concerning the United States' creation of a new Panamanian secret intelligence office (Part A, Dec. 23) should serve as a sour dose of reality to those who believed that the December, 1989, invasion had anything to do with democracy. The primary aim of the intelligence office, evidently funded directly by the U.S., "is to gather information on those presenting ideological threats to Panama's national security, including domestic 'troublemakers.' These include opposition figures organizing mass demonstrations. . . ."
Moreover, the secret intelligence office is not obliged to inform the Panamanian congress "about the workings of the agency, and no legislative committee has been organized to oversee its operations. . . ." So much for checks and balances. The agency director, a Noriega crony, reports the activities of his office only to the president of Panama, who, at his discretion, may inform other members of government. What the U.S. has created is an instrument to protect "our man" in Panama City, whoever that may be.
DAVID P. MINAHAN, Lakewood