Episode 99



It's 1989, and the US has invaded Panama. The country's corrupt leader, General Manuel Noriega, goes into hiding. Martha Duncan of the Defense Intelligence Agency is tasked with tracking him down - and she'll do whatever it takes to bring him into the open. Vanessa Kirby joins the hunt for Panama's most wanted. Could you catch a dictator?
Read the transcript →

True Spies Episode 99: Catching Noriega

Welcome to True Spies. Week by week, mission by mission, you’ll hear the true stories behind the world’s greatest espionage operations. You’ll meet the people who navigate this secret world. What do they know? What are their skills? And what would you do in their position? 

This​​​ is True Spies Episode 99: Catching Noriega. 

MARTHA DUNCAN: I have a story that occurred over 30 years ago during the US invasion of Panama and the capture of General Manuel Noriega, the dictator of the country. I was instrumental in getting Noriega out of the Papal Nuncio.

NARRATOR: It’s December 20, 1989. George [H. W.] Bush has just launched Operation Just Cause. In other words, the US has invaded Panama. The US had enjoyed a close relationship with Panama and, in particular, de facto leader General Manuel Noriega. But the relationship between the two countries had deteriorated to the point of no return. The US wanted Noriega gone. More than 20,000 American troops invaded Panama seizing control of key military installations. Panama City became a battleground. The US planned to extradite General Noriega from Panama to face charges in the US. There was just one problem - he’d completely disappeared. When he did finally surface, it was under the protection of the Vatican Embassy in Panama City, meaning US forces could not legally enter the building to seize him. No matter what they tried, they could not get him out. What you are about to hear is a story that’s been hidden for over 30 years. It’s the story of how Martha Duncan, a Panama analyst in the Joint Intelligence Fusion Cell, changed the course of history by persuading General Manuel Noriega to surrender to US forces. 

MARTHA DUNCAN: I think that was achieved because I was a woman. There were parts to this whole operation that entailed getting close to a mistress. Another man is not going to have the same opportunity.

NARRATOR: Panama. Capital? Panama City. Size? 29,157 square miles. Languages? Spanish, English. Major religion? Christianity. Leader? General Manuel Noriega, nicknamed ‘Pineapple Face’. Not a pretty man on the outside or the inside. A brutal dictator, a lover of parties, a drug trafficker, an arms dealer, and - allegedly - an electoral fraudster and murderer to boot. Despite all that, Noriega had once enjoyed a special relationship with the US. He was a key ally in Washington’s attempts to battle the influence of communism in Central America. But now, that relationship had failed utterly. Noriega had himself declared ‘war’ on the US. Likewise, the Americans were unhappy with his criminal activities and were already planning his downfall. The final straw came when Panamanian forces killed an American serviceman. The US declared war. 

MARTHA DUNCAN: It was a clear evening. All the stars were visible and, all of a sudden, the sky just lit up - the sound of bombs, the sound of gunfire. It was the most surreal sound you will ever hear, very chaotic.

NARRATOR: Meet Martha Duncan. She was the Panama analyst at the US Defense Intelligence Agency but, crucially, Martha is from Panama. 

MARTHA DUNCAN: I was born in the former Canal Zone. This is an area that's 10 miles wide and about 50 miles long along the canal area. And it's called an ‘incorporated territory’, which the United States leased from Panama. And, all who were born within that territory, are called Zonians, so I’m a Zonian.

NARRATOR: The Panama Canal Zone came into being in 1903. It was a home-away-from-home for the Americans who built and maintained the Canal and the workers who supported them. Martha grew up sporty, was a good student, and had links to the US through her father. She went to college there but she was drawn back to Panama when her studies ended. In 1977, she got a job back in the Canal Zone as a sports director working with the US military. She staged tournaments with the Panama Defense Forces - Noriega’s security unit and the US military. It was during one of these tournaments that she was approached by a US military intelligence officer. The offer he made would change Martha’s career from sports instructor to spy.

MARTHA DUNCAN: In 1978, at one of these tournaments, the commander of the 4/78 Military Intelligence Battalion approached me one day and asked if I was interested in changing career fields. And I asked him why he would think that. And he says: “Well I'm the Commander of the Military Intelligence Battalion. I've seen you, how you handle yourself through all of these sporting events, your translations.” I translate a lot of the sporting activities. My Spanish to English was perfect. “You have a Master's Degree. You have a great personality. And I just was wondering whether you would be interested in transitioning into a different field.”

NARRATOR: She said yes. By now, you know how the recruitment dance goes. She was interviewed by two agents in a darkened hotel room and faced a battery of tests. Then nothing. For years, Martha heard nothing from her would-be recruiters. She put aside any idea of working in intelligence. She moved on. In 1980, she got a job in the US as a youth activities director for the military. Then, out of the blue, she gets a call.

MARTHA DUNCAN: And it was from an office out of Fort Meade. And it was funny because it had been so long the individual asked if I was still interested in the intelligence field. So, “Yes,” I said. “I'm interested.” And in June of 1982, I drove to Fort Meade, Maryland. And I was assigned to a unit called Special Operations detachment. And that really was the first day of the official start of my intelligence career.

NARRATOR: And so, Martha began to learn the skills, the tradecraft of military intelligence.

MARTHA DUNCAN: The training that I had was pretty intense and diverse. I attended a training course in England that focused on surveillance detection, setting up operating posts, conducting surveillance, escape, and evasion - all of the things that are required when you really are in a scenario where you're being followed or you're following somebody. When I returned back to Special Operations, after some time, my boss approached me about going into additional training in the clandestine world. And so I went to the Farm, which focuses on every possible aspect for a clandestine officer who’s facing the acquisition of a foreign agent, which involves different techniques, methods how to be involved with your agent, your source, how to train them - all of the various tradecraft necessary for the conduct of a clandestine operation.

NARRATOR: She had graduated into the spy business. Martha was assigned to a special operations unit within the Department of Defense. And, in 1989, she was promoted to Panama analyst for the Central American branch within the Defense Intelligence Agency. So when the US wanted a team to go to Panama ahead of the US invasion, Martha’s name was put forward. In many ways, she was a perfect choice. She was athletic, had excellent language skills and knowledge of the region, and was trained in spy skills and counterintelligence operations. Sounds like they had the perfect spy for the job, no? But there was one problem. They were expecting a man. 

MARTHA DUNCAN: When my boss got me out of class and asked me to be a part of a special unit, to go to Panama, he said it was a very important mission because it was a very specialized unit to go after Noriega. It was a very difficult selection for him. I did not know this at the time, but as a female, he was being asked by the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, that he better have his ‘stuff’ together because if something went wrong, as a result of selecting a woman for the job, his job was on the line.

NARRATOR: Martha, not knowing the reservations the bosses had over her suitability for the job, wanted to go. In fact, she really wanted this gig.

MARTHA DUNCAN: For me, it was a very personal decision because my boss at the time that I was selected for the team asked me if I wanted to go. And I remember thinking: “What a proud moment, yes, I want to be part of a team to take Noriega out of there.” I was just so excited to go and be part of this. I didn't look at it, at the time, that I was part of history or anything like that. That was to come. But I certainly wanted to be part of an effort to get Noriega out of there. It was very personal. That was my homeland. That's where I had grown up. And I had a lot of family in Panama who were feeling the pinch of Noriega's involvement. I did not think of myself as a woman going down there. I just felt I was being selected because I have the right tools and ability to be part of the team. So I did not look upon this as anything other than I'm on orders to do my duty.

NARRATOR: Finally, Martha was given the all-clear. She could go. But it was made implicit that if she messed up, heads would roll back in Washington. And so, Martha became part of Operation Blue Spoon, an advance operation to prepare the country for the invasion. Crucial to this was the ability to track General Noriega. The US wanted to ensure that once the troops invaded they could quickly capture him and bring him to justice. 

MARTHA DUNCAN: So our team arrived in Panama in November on a C-130 military transport into Howard Air Force space. And then we were set up in the tunnel, which is up in Quarry Heights. And that's where the senior command operations posts were set up. And each member of the team had their specialty. And they executed that on a daily basis. My background is as a case officer. Being from my native country, I knew the surroundings and I had a good appreciation of the people.

NARRATOR: She knew this place. She belonged, blended in, and she knew she could use that to her advantage. 

MARTHA DUNCAN: So one of the first things that I started doing was going into town and talking with the folks on the street. I blended very well. We had also set up the operational element where I had a telephone and a desk assigned to me up in the tunnel.

NARRATOR: Martha’s job was to gather intel on the whereabouts of General Noriega.

MARTHA DUNCAN: And I had set up a hotline so that people could phone in and provide information of where Noriega might be.

NARRATOR: Imagine. You’ve worked abroad for a while. While you’ve been gone, you’ve learned a few new skills - surveillance, espionage, military counterintelligence training. Standard. Now you’re back, and the future of the country is at stake. Where on earth do you start?

MARTHA DUNCAN: Part of my responsibility, I thought, was to really get to know the reaction, the sentiments of the people. And I would go downtown - and I blended in quite well into the commercial areas into the shops - just to hear people talking because that was really the talk of the moment anyway. There was a lot of activity by US military forces with helicopters and training operations and things that they were doing as part of the exercises. So there was a lot of commotion that was going on on a daily basis.

NARRATOR: Right. One of the most important tools of tradecraft. Talking and listening. Oh, and flirting.

MARTHA DUNCAN: I would chat them up, see what their sentiments were. I also would do my running out at the Fort Amador Causeway, which was something that I used to do when I was back in high school, an area that I really enjoyed. And I would put my shorts on and just run down the causeway - and Noriega had special units that were located on the causeway - so I would run down there and stop and chat up with the guards, really flirting, asking how the boss is doing, and report any information that they may give me. We were really interested to see what the activities of Noriega were at that point.

NARRATOR: It was on one of those visits to the city that Martha decided to get her hair and nails done at a salon downtown. Were the doubters right? Was Martha taking her eye off the job? No, of course not. Martha knew exactly what she was doing. That visit to the salon would ultimately lead to one of the momentous events in recent US history - the surrender of General Manuel Noriega.

MARTHA DUNCAN: I went to a hair salon that was known to be frequented by Miss Vicky, Noriega's mistress, and I thought that I would obtain some information from the gals there. So I went to have my hair and my nails done and see what I could find out. And the chat there was really that Miss Vicky was very despised. She had come from a respected family and when she got tied in with Noriega, she forgot about her roots and just enjoyed the lavish riches that Noriega provided. She would go to the salon and the gals would tell me that - as much money as she probably had - she was not a good tipper. And she was not a blonde, which I found to be interesting, but that's the kind of talk that you're going to find in a salon. 

NARRATOR: We’ve all been there, the barbers or the hairdressers. People talk. They gossip. And, if you’re a trained spy, you listen. So Martha picked up intel on Noriega’s mistress, Vicky Amado. Vicky is important because she was known to be with him on social occasions and official visits. If anyone would know where Noriega was and what he was doing, it was the mistress. While getting a coat of nail polish and a fresh blow-dry, Martha also discovered more information that could help her get closer to Noriega.

MARTHA DUNCAN: I also found out that Vicky's mother had a little bar and restaurant and she was known to cook meals for Noriega because he was very concerned about poisoning. So Vicky's mother would do the meals for Noriega.

NARRATOR: Martha was building up a picture of Noriega, and also of the women in his life - information that the usual intel routes wouldn’t pick up. As we’ve mentioned, It was important that the US keep tabs on Noriega. Capturing him in the event of an invasion was a top priority. And so, on the 19th of December, 1989 US troops invaded. The US had tired of Noriega's increasingly repressive role internally in Panama, and there were indications he was selling his services to other intelligence bodies, not to mention drug-trafficking organizations. They wanted him out. As soon as the invasion started, the plan was to capture Noriega and extradite him to face justice for his drug charges. There’s one problem. Noriega had disappeared.

MARTHA DUNCAN: When the invasion occurred, Noriega had been attending meetings on the Atlantic coast. So we knew his whereabouts there. They had tracked him to a hotel outside of Tocumen airport, prior to the invasion. And when the invasion did occur, the guns went off. It was chaos. It was just fire, bombings, and infantry just all over the town all over the country, really. And in that chaos, the elements that had been tracking Noriega's move lost Noriega. He just disappeared from the hotel where he had last been seen.

NARRATOR: Martha’s hotline lit up. 

MARTHA DUNCAN: The chaos that ensued after the invasion - there were multiple calls to my hotline about sightings, people, explaining that they had seen him in a particular location. I would relay this information to the reconnaissance and search team that was also co-located up at the tunnel. And they were then given an order to go search that particular location because, really, nobody knew where he had gone

NARRATOR: By December 21st, the US military and intelligence agencies had lost track of him. Nobody knew where he was. Was he in the jungle? The mountains? Where had he fled to?

MARTHA DUNCAN: So, in the chaos and night, was my feeling that Noriega was not in the mountains or in the jungles. And I just had a sense that his love for Miss Vicky had to factor into perhaps where he may be located.

NARRATOR: Call it a hunch. Call it feminine intuition. Whatever it is, she sets to work, using all her tradecraft. She’s highly trained. Her whole career has been building up to this moment. Of all her skills, surveillance, counterintelligence, espionage, weapons training, which one would aid her best in the pivotal moment? 

MARTHA DUNCAN: So I got the Yellow Pages and looked up the family and I made a phone call.

NARRATOR: Ah, of course. The Yellow Pages.

MARTHA DUNCAN: I thought that that phone call would tell me if Vicky knew where Noriega was, just based on the emotions that I would hear on the other side. So, when I made the call, her mother Norma answered the phone. And I introduced myself as Maria. And I had a message from Manuel, for Vicky. And at that moment, Norma just screamed for Vicky. And Vicky comes to the phone, she's out of breath. And the first question that she asks is: “Is he okay, where is he?” So, that was the moment that I just knew that these two ladies were clueless as to Noriega’s whereabouts.

NARRATOR: Oh. So much for hunches. Martha is no closer to Noriega. But that didn’t deter her. She knew Vicky was the key to unlocking the location of the most wanted man in Panama. Martha didn’t give up.

MARTHA DUNCAN: I told Miss Vicky that my name was Maria. And I had a message from Manuel, that he was very, very concerned about her safety. He was fine but he was more concerned about her safety. And, if she was afraid, to then call me back, Maria, and I would take her to safety.

NARRATOR: Ah, another well-known tradecraft technique - the bare-faced lie. 

MARTHA DUNCAN: I provided a phone number for her to return a call. And that's where I’d left it on the evening of the 21st.

NARRATOR: On the 23rd of December, three days after the hunt to find Noriega began, Martha - now going by the name Maria - gets the call. It had worked. Vicky was scared and accepted Maria’s offer to get her to safety. They agree to meet. They arrange bona fides.

MARTHA DUNCAN: I had mentioned to her that I would pick her up, provided her with the bona fides of what she should be wearing and I would drive up to her just to introduce myself as Maria, and for her to get in the vehicle quickly.

NARRATOR: Bona fides? You know, the identifying details so Vicky knew she could trust the person who was in the car was the one she’d agree to meet. One problem. ‘Maria’ did not have any transport. No car.

MARTHA DUNCAN: The operations environment was really happening so quickly that I did not have the opportunity to say I need a vehicle. “Let's call the motor pool. Let's get me a civilian sedan.” I knew that I just had to react quickly, and have a vehicle that would blend in with where I was going. And so I came up with the idea of contacting a friend that I knew, about borrowing his car. It was a 1968 Chevy Impala. And the name was the “Dog-mobile” because the car was only used to transport his German Shepherds around. So it was perfect really, for what I needed - an old beat-up car for going into a part of town where you didn't see fancy sedans. And so, that's the automobile that I used to go pick up Miss Vicky.

NARRATOR: Dog-mobile? Not exactly James Bond’s Aston Martin. But it does the trick. Blends in perfectly. Now for the pick-up.

MARTHA DUNCAN: When I rolled the window down, I said: “I'm Maria.” She quickly got into the car. As I looked at her face, she was a little taller than I was - so about 5’ 5”, clear eyes, pretty eyes, shoulder-length hair, and it was the blondish color. And I remembered in the salon, that she's really not a blonde - that's women-talk. But she was an attractive lady. And then I proceeded to take another surveillance route back to the safe house. And there was just quiet in the car. It was really somewhat profound.

NARRATOR: Martha, as ‘Maria’ hadn’t actually lied. She was taking her to a safe house. She had just not yet told her the safe house was in fact a US military base. 

MARTHA DUNCAN: She was very nervous. And as I drove into the Canal Zone, that is when I could sense something. She looked at me and asked where we were going because, at this point, I was now approaching a military guard and a checkpoint with the US, of course, at this point. And I told her that I was taking her to safety and that she should no longer be alarmed.

NARRATOR: Now the interrogation begins. But this isn’t your average intelligence interview. No lie detectors here. Martha knew Vicky was the key to Noriega’s whereabouts. She knew what to do. She applied some very unusual techniques. You won’t find these in the handbook of spy training. Listen well. 

MARTHA DUNCAN: The start of the interrogation really was about her arrival, making her feel that she was safe. When she went to her bedroom, I closed the door and gave her some time to be alone. I heard her crying in there. And, later in the evening, I knocked on the door and I said I had some dinner for her. So it's all part of how the interrogation process begins. It's building rapport. It's getting to know this woman a little bit better, having her feel that she can confide in me more. So it involved talking a lot about her beginnings, her family. She had two brothers and had been married. But it was a tragic end to the marriage when her husband died in an automobile accident. And she had a young child. So she did come from a respectable family and she was educated and she wanted good things for her family.

NARRATOR: Martha had to be Vicky’s friend, build trust. Would this woman give up her lover? More importantly, Martha was Panamanian. How could she hide her contempt and disgust for the woman who had sold out her country for personal gain, living a life of luxury when most people lived in poverty?

MARTHA DUNCAN: Well, my personal feelings were, really, disdain. I just looked at a woman who was a very attractive woman, from a good family. And I just thought to myself: “How can she be with somebody who was just despised by the country?” The things that he had done to get Panama where it was at that particular point, how could she do this? And her first sense, when I asked her, I said: “Do you think that he really did good things for the country?” And she didn't answer me, but I could tell just by her look, that she was embarrassed. She was really not sure that she wanted to answer that question because he did not do good for the country. He did good for himself. And she took advantage of being his mistress and being lavished upon.

NARRATOR: Putting her own feelings aside, Martha focuses on the woman in front of her. She knows where her Achilles heel is and puts that knowledge to use. 

MARTHA DUNCAN: I did mention to her that because of her involvement with Noriega, her own future could be in jeopardy, the future of her children could be in jeopardy - in terms of perhaps wanting to send them to the United States for education or medical reasons - visas would not be approved and from a legal standpoint, that it could be something that would jeopardize her own life really, because of her association with him. So, it really behooved her to cooperate with the US government because doing that would prevent her from having more and more problems than she expected.

NARRATOR: Meanwhile, while his mistress is being interrogated, on December 24, 1989 - Christmas Eve - the missing Noriega, facing a US indictment for drug trafficking as well as claims of election rigging, walks into the Vatican’s Embassy in Panama City and claims protection. Now the US knew where he was but getting him out was another matter. Let’s just pause a moment. Did you spot the dates? Noriega walks into the Vatican Embassy in Panama City one day after Vicky meets Martha, or ‘Maria’, and is taken to the safe house at the US base. Had Noriega heard where his love was being held? Was that what lured him out? We’ll never know. While Martha was interrogating Vicky, the US Army tried their own tactics. They decided to use psychological warfare by blasting a wall of sound non-stop outside the Vatican Embassy. Courtesy of a playlist from the Southern Command Network, the US military radio in central America, a fleet of Humvees mounted with loudspeakers rolled in, and rock music rolled out: The Clash, Van Halen, Guns N Roses, The Doors. Adding to the noise were protesters outside banging pans. There were frantic calls to the Archbishop inside the Embassy asking him to force Noriega out. Nothing worked. He refused to give himself up. But Martha had a plan and it involved Vicky.

MARTHA DUNCAN: And I said: “If you really want what's best for your country - and you certainly want what's best for your children - there's an opportunity here to cooperate with the US government try and help us to get Noriega out of the Papal Nuncio.” Now we had a direct line, from the safe house to Noriega, around the 27th of December, so that they would initiate conversation. 

NARRATOR: It was these conversations with Vicky, and the trust built between the two women, that gave Martha the idea that would lead to the capture of the general. She saw me really as, I think, her savior. I was the only person that she was now communicating with, and she had a sense that I was going to be able to help her.

NARRATOR: No guns, explosions, Navy Seals. It all came down to that human emotion that we’re all vulnerable to. That was to be General Noriega’s downfall, pride.

MARTHA DUNCAN: He was a very proud man. He did not want to be humiliated, did not like anybody that would get in his way of thinking. So he was a man who was not to be trusted, but he felt that he was doing the right thing for the country.

NARRATOR: Martha had learned a lot about Noriega the man from Vicky. He had a big ego. He did not like to be humiliated. He always wanted to be dignified. So Martha had an idea but she needed Vicky to persuade him. She set the bait. 

MARTHA DUNCAN: I mentioned to Vicky to tell him that the sooner Noriega came out, the sooner things could work out in their future. So it wasn't just his pride, but perhaps some love. That's exactly how he exited the Nuncio.

NARRATOR: Vicky makes the call. 

MARTHA DUNCAN: Well, she said: “I think being a very proud man your dignity could be restored. You've been in there for a number of days, and you could come out with your uniform, your dignity restored. You can feel like you're a proud man coming out of the Papal Nuncio. And I think if you do this, we can start looking at what life may be down the road because it's not going to get better.

MARTHA DUNCAN: The last call was around 5 pm on the third of January. And you know, the team had already started getting the preparations to get the uniform to Noriega, which is what then occurred.

NARRATOR: Martha’s plan had worked. The uniform had been found, washed, pressed, and delivered to the embassy. At 8.44 pm on the 4th of January 1990, Manuel Noriega walked out of the Papal Nuncio where he had the protection of the Vatican, and into the hands of DEA officials. Martha and Vicky had achieved what all the might of the US military could not. 

MARTHA DUNCAN: When I saw on the television, that he was there - I mean, the cameras are right in his face - I just had the biggest grin. There was a lot of embracing. I was with my boss at the moment, and it was a very triumphant elation. I felt: “We did it. We did it. We did it.” It was an incredible achievement. And I was just very happy at that moment.

NARRATOR: In the end, despite all the might of the US and its vast intelligence resources, it had come down to one woman to bring in one of the most notorious military dictators in history.

MARTHA DUNCAN: I think that was achieved because I was a woman because there were parts to this - this whole operation that entailed getting close to a mistress - where another man is not going to have the same opportunity. It would be very difficult for a man to do what I accomplished because the scenarios that I was able to orchestrate - being in a hair salon, running up the causeway and flirting a man - [a man] is not able to get into those kinds of environments and achieve the kinds of things that I was able to achieve. Operationally, it just would not have happened.

NARRATOR: This is not the version of the capture of General Noriega you may have heard or read. Remarkably, In the official accounts by the generals and the heads of intelligence agencies, no one mentions Martha Duncan. She did get a certificate and an achievement medal, along with the rest of the members of the team. Now, she finally gets to tell her story. 

MARTHA DUNCAN: It's not like I was doing things completely on my own. I had a boss that really relied upon my abilities, upon my capabilities, endorsed what I was going to do, gave me basically carte blanche to operate in the way that I did. My background, up to that point, was instrumental in me achieving those things. And so, getting credit for it, I just feel a sense of great pride. I've always - going back to my sporting life - I was always a team player. And I felt it's always about a team that gives support. I was the person this time that led the team. But it was really a sense of great pride and achievement.

NARRATOR: Noriega was flown to the US with Prisoner of War status to face charges of drug trafficking, money laundering, and racketeering. He spent 17 years in jail there. While in prison, he was convicted in absentia in France of money laundering; With an agreement with the US, he was extradited to France in 2007. Panama also wanted him on murder charges and again - with an agreement between the two countries - he was extradited to Panama in 2010. He died in jail in 2017, aged 83.

MARTHA DUNCAN: My sense about Noriega, actually, it was still an open chapter until his death on 29 May 2017. He had been sentenced in Miami to 40 years in jail. I also contributed some part to that because after he turned himself over, I requested to stay back and work with the document exploitation team, which sifted through troves and troves of papers that had been confiscated. And we'd look for any information that could help in the trial. So I, I always felt that, finally, justice has caught up with this evil man. And when he was transferred from France to Panama, he died in prison. And, actually, the name of the prison is El Renacer which in English means a rebirth. And I felt that it was very ironic because when he died, there really was a rebirth. And for me, it was the closing of a chapter of Manuel Noriega.

NARRATOR: His mistress, Vicky Amado, swapped glamor and influence for quiet obscurity. Martha believes that she focused on raising her young daughter, away from the glare of public opinion. Martha went back to her job, without fanfare, and quietly got back to work supporting clandestine operations.

MARTHA DUNCAN: I returned from Panama at the end of February, and I had the opportunity to take some time off. I then went back to the operational world and clandestine world, and I had just a wonderful career with the operational element. And I was able to retire from that organization in 2013. I had my challenges. It's just a challenging environment. To begin with, for women, I had a number of roadblocks along the way. But I got to a senior executive level because I had those within the organization that had trust and confidence in me.

NARRATOR: I’m Vanessa Kirby. We all have valuable spy skills, and our experts are here to help you discover yours. Get an authentic assessment of your spy skills, created by a former Head of Training at British Intelligence, now at SPYSCAPE.com.

Guest Bio

Former US Defense Intelligence officer Martha Duncan was born in the Panama Canal Zone and exposed to tyranny during the Noriega regime. In 1977, she was working in the Canal Zone as a sports director with the US military and staged tournaments with the Panama Defense Forces - Noriega’s security unit. During one of these tournaments, she was approached by a US military intelligence officer who asked if she was interested in changing career fields.

No items found.
No items found.