Radio Noriega

Willie hears ya. Willie don’t care — Groundskeeper Willie, “Grade School Confidential”

Skinner’s and Krabappel’s stand-off with the feds draws on Operation Nifty Package, wherein the U.S. pulled off a daring mission to unseat warlord, coca merchant, and former CIA bosom buddy Manuel Noriega in 1989.

Cornered in his country’s Vatican embassy, Noriega refused to surrender, with the U.S. unwilling to send soldiers into the nunciature. Meanwhile, the media circled. In order to prevent reporters from using parabolic mikes to listen in on the negotiations, the U.S. brought in loudspeakers to blast music that would overwhelm any eavesdropping equipment. It also had the convenient side effect of annoying Noriega.

As Noriega supposedly detested rock and/or roll, the military radio deejays fielded requests from troops in-country, hitting the besieged dictator with tunes like “Welcome to the Jungle” and “It Keeps You Running”. Due to the constraints of the Geneva Convention, only two Billy Joel songs were played, but the damage was done.

The full list of songs played can be found here (starts on page 4).

Noriega surrendered on January 3, 1990 (the siege began Christmas Eve), whereupon he was brought to the U.S. and hit with a 17-year prison sentence. Upon completion of his sentence in 2007, he was extradited to France, where he got another seven years. The Panama court system also still wants a piece of him, so don’t wait up.

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