The Panama Deception

Ratings: 8.33/10 from 15 users.


The Panama DeceptionYears before the US went after Saddam Hussein, the White House had Manuel Noriega, another former ally, in its sights.

In their Oscar-winning documentary, director Barbara Trent and writer/editor David Kasper (Cover Up: Behind the Iran Contra Affair) contrast media coverage of the 1989 invasion with expert testimony.

The filmmakers backtrack to America's turn-of-the-century takeover of the Panama Canal--and volatile aftermath--before flashing forward to the reform-minded Carter era. When the CIA-supported Noriega comes to power, reform gives way to repression, and Reagan calls for the dictator's ouster.

His successor, Bush, brings in the troops. It would be one thing if they only targeted military facilities, but witnesses claim soldiers also fired on civilians and residential property (a Pentagon spokesman denies the accusation).

Depending on the source, casualties ranged from 250 to 4,000. Narrated by Elizabeth Montgomery, Panama Deception was shot on video--and looks it--but content is king.

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31 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Peter D. Slaughter

    I knew then it was a trick.

  2. Juan Linares

    Not a balanced documentary, very little space is given to the internal opposition to Noriega. The producers were very concerned about due process after the invasion, but not all concerned about due process during the Noriega regime. People like Balbina Herrera who claimed presecution after the invasion, were persecutors of Noriega's opponents while he was still dictator of Panama, Balbina was a notorious member of the dignity batallions, which harassed and attacked opponents to Noriega. Many people died during the invasion because it was an act of war, but how many died under Noriega's regime and how can it be explained. Ms Herrera became a prominent politician in Panama after the invasion and eventually was a presidential candidate, she lost by a great margin, she has never explained or repented from her support of Noriega. Noriega was an opportunistic thug who would play anybody to stay in power, the US goverment, the colombian drug lords and Panama's poor people. Panama today is a lively democracy, where Noriega's supporter during his regime move about freely and act politically, the canal is in Panamanian control, the US troops left, and some compensation was given to the victims of the invasion, Noriega has never compensated any of his victims in any way.If the invasion had not ocurred who knows how many years more Noriega would have ruled, and how many Panamanians would have died or emigrated. Juan Linares, Boquete, Panama

  3. Stefan

    I was in Panama with the 1/508 at Kobbe before and during this event. Noriega was a brute and there was a huge groundswell of opposition to him in Panama City (I remember the daily massed protests with banging pans and calls of "la Pina" quite clearly). He had murdered most of his serious political rivals in the most horrific fashion (Hugo Spadafora, anyone?). More than that, however, as US support slipped, Noriega began to try to rally support around him using one of the most tried and true methods ever, demonizing a foreign power as a threat. I didn't see the clip of him beating his machete on the Senate podium while screaming that he was at war with America in this "documentary", but I guess that didn't fit the theme.
    I think the real "deception" here is that this was anything close to impartial journalism.

  4. Sarge

    I was not there during the invasion. I got deployed in Jan of 91. Things seemed pretty mellow by then. I did hear stories from buddies about what was going on though and from the sounds of it, you two guys are way more correct then this film was. I also see that Elizabeth Montgomery wasn't much better in her politics then Hanoi Jane Fonda.

  5. AnconRanger

    I was there, and this is so ONE sided !!! I see that the DigBat and Doberman uprisings are all left out..and to assume that the Army had ANYTHING to do with the coup attempt is just stupid. I watched it happen, and watched Bn 2000 mow down civilians in the street.

    Executions by US troops at Balboia....Please, I was there. It just DIDN'T happen. What are you folks smoking? Well, I guess since you are using the stance of "death rays, and Lazers", that pretty much says it all.

    In short, this report, at least the invaision, is just FULL OF S@#$ !!!

    I wish all you "secret spy decoder ring" folks could have been there to see what really happened. I was there.

  6. 18Dragon

    The Panama Deception is obviously a big embarrassing joke to any sane person (American or Panamanian) who was down there during the '89 invasion. I'm not political, but it's clearly more a left-wing propaganda film than a factual documentary. The film throws out wild accusations against the US military, but gives little or no evidence to back up most of their claims. Some examples are that US soldiers deliberately burned down the El Chorillo slum before attacking Noriega's Commandancia headquarters. Actually a Panamanian priest testified that the Panamanian Dignity Battalions (Ding Bats) set the fires to cover their retreat back to the Commadancia. This makes more sense than US troops setting fires in front of their path of attack. This extremely biased so-called documentary also claims that upwards of 5,000 Panamanians were killed in the invasion and illegally buried in "hidden" mass graves, but again the film provides little evidence for this high death toll and numerous mass interments. The film does a great job of white-washing Noriega and his dictatorial activities. It also omits the fact that the Cuban military (army and navy) were in Panama during the invasion training the PDF and Ding Bats, which resulted in a few Cuban soldiers being killed. Noriega created the situation that "just caused" the invasion and Panama suffered the consequences of his rule and mistakes. The Panama Canal was secured and later turned over to the people as stipulated in Jimmy Carter's 1977 treaty with Panama.

  7. Marzipan.barb

    Jesus Christ! I'm so sorry I didn't know what was happening. Please know that the US people are brain washed. We are not the others.

  8. Guest

    My gosh! How proud am I fornot being an USA homosapien "Sub-Spicie"!
    I seen so many docs. for which the scheme is quite a bit of the same.
    From a little after WWII, the Viet things, war crimes, then the USA Gov. lead CIA murder in Chilie of a democratically elected leader, the CIA drug deals in Nicaragua by the USA idol psychopath Colonel North, now Bush gangster's partner Noriega and Co.
    And then, to sum that up, the intentional and deliberate lying scheme of the USA criminal Elite (AKA As the Bush's gang, at the UN regarding the supposed "Hiden WMD" once sold to Saddam by that nation of psychopaths!

    And then, who can ever say that the some 3,000 or so fans of these psychopaths who died in the WTC were innocent victims, really?
    Not only they'd be typically innocents but also ignorants even though there's a law in the USA that state that it is illegal not to vote?

  9. Chris

    Why is this under the history section, it should be placed under politics since many of the points in this movie have no evidence or any historical accuracy to back them up. This is clearly a political sided documentary and when you it call history people start taking it as fact and a history surrounded in myth, is doomed to repeat the same mistakes.

  10. Vlatko

    OK @Chris. It will be in politics.

  11. Chris

    Appreciate it wasn't trying to affirm or debunk the points in the documentary, since everybody is entitled to opinions, but many people will just believe word for word what is said mainly because they think it is a historical accurate video. So just pretty much thank you once again.

  12. who_me_yeah_you

    I have never known a peoples so obsessed with the left wing. No evidence to back up the claims? The media black out was well executed wasn't it. As for the markers of independence you mention, they seem remarkably similar to the "Iraqis are better off now Saddam is gone" guff that is repeatedly spouted despite the Iraqis not feeling so. I suppose a pattern of violently facilitating dictators then violently liberating the peoples from the same dictator with little concern for the populace doesn't count as evidence.

  13. Annie999

    This doc shows the side that was not shown in the US media -- thats why it is one sided. To show the other side of what happened. DUH!

  14. Gleaman

    The People of the U.S.A should pass law that no leader of the most secret organizations (C. I. A.) ,the F.B.I.or head of the National Security should be ever able to run for political office like George Bush and family. They are to easy corruptable and there by able to fix elections for the 1% to profit as that family has done by killing innocent people all over the world.

  15. advocate22

    Gleaman, while I am and have been 100% behind this position for a long time (no one with national secrets and/or disposition to commit illegal acts be allowed to run for office), exactly WHO do you think would be able to pass (or even suggest) such a law?

  16. dre

    the events in this documentary are so consistent with the policies our government takes in every conflict.americans just do not understand, nor do they have the esperiance of having their homeland occupied, bombed, attaked and controlled by a foreign invader..u cannot understand unless u as a people experince your destiny, government, and culture dictated to u by a foreign nation.american media sells bullshit stories..throwing around the same words, freedom,democracy, reminiscent this doc is to grenada,iraq,iran,libya,venezuela etc the list is to long..

  17. lakhotason

    So what position should the US take?

  18. Guest


    Since you asked for it, here it goes:=>

    1st) Within "what position should the US", it ought to be understood, what "Foreign Affairs" rule of conduct should the USA adopt.
    In short, this is the typical reply of a psycho who has to go through a mental treatment after being declared guilty by insanity = "Denial"!

    For the moment, as far as science is up to, it is the first time that its up to a point where a psychiatric treatment is of an absolute necessity on a group or individuals!

    To begin with, if you'd have any reasoning left, you’d have to figure out that it ain't a matter of "Relations" between individuals, the "Other Individual" within your delirium tremens has nothing to do with your socialized disease. It could well be the Panameens, the Chileans, the San-Salvadorians, the Iranians, the Vietnamese, the so forth so forth;
    -It ain’t them who have a nation wide psychiatric sickness, it’s you.
    The problem is that sort of sickness is not that well known to humankind.

    How about implanting a real democracy, not a hoaxed one?
    Ever heard of the “Rule of Law” & human rights?
    A country constitution that insure to the citizens leaders that are not corrupted to the bone.
    Updating these so that diseases do not attack the formers?

    2nd) Regarding you’re specific case (Personally you), I’d recommend the plastic green bag since you’re old enough to watch this docu.
    The treatment may require not years but centuries and maybe entire civilizations. And if you came from abroad, it is obvious that you came in contract with this disease.

    In short, it may well be cheaper to simply take an aspirin & ignore the whole.

    In hope that'll help or sooth in a few centuries,


  19. lakhotason

    Just what the hell are you talking about?

  20. john008

    Had this military operation been directed against a country that had committed mass murder or other human rights crimes, Pinochet's Chile, Stroessner's Paraguay, Somosa's Nicaragua, D'Aubuissons El salvador , or Sadam's Iraq, for examle, the world might have understood. but panama had done nothing of the sort; it had merely dared to defy the wishes of a handful of powerful politicians and corporate executives. it had insisted that canal Treaty be honored, it had held discussions with social reformers, and it had explored the possibility of building a new canal with Japanese financing and construction companies. as a result, it suffered devastating consequences. the destabilization campaign launched by the United States in 1986, ending with the 1989 Panama invasion, was a result of the U.S rejection of any scenario in which future control of the Panama Canal might be in the hands of a n independent, sovereign Panama supported by Japan.
    Washington's stated justification for attack was based on one man. it signaled a U.S policy turn back toward the old methods of empire building, that the Bush administration was determined to go one better than Reagan and to demonstrate to the world that it would not hesitate to use massive force in order to achieve its ends.

  21. Daniel

    The music looks like they took it from Jaws, the introduction makes Panama out to look like paradise, the bias is obvious, how did this win an award for 'Best Documentary' again? It's pathetic.

    And from the looks of the posts below people only have problems with human rights abuse when the perpetrator is a right-winger, but when you got a leftist like Noriega, YEAH NO PROBLEM.

  22. Erwin Alber

    You are frigging sick in the head, that's all I can say. How would you like it if some motherf*****g psychopath was bombing your neighbourhood? Eat sh*t.

  23. Rod

    This proves the fact that the Bush crime family care less
    about violations of international law and the fact that
    no country can invade another unless they pose a direct
    military threat, on our shores...

    To think that these atrcocities were not condemed by the
    UN and World court...
    This makes both GHW Bush and his punk son war criminals,
    worthy of another Nurembery type trial...
    In other countries, their dicators leave to country
    and go into exile, here they are given a library...
    It doesn't matter that the USA has commited
    ' Crimes against peace, crimes against humanity '...

  24. Obi Won

    Finally the Truth! Amazing that thru their controlled television news they are able to deceive my family and their yuppie best friends. I really believe they believe it but actually believe it is necessary so deny its truth so we will shut up? What a way to depopulate - allowed and induced starvation ultimately mass suicide.

  25. Obi Won

    Afghanistan, Vietnam and since, now with criminal mass envirnonmental crime sprinkled in for effect - Valdez, Horizon, Fuku, Massey, and on and on - all outrageously eggregious criminal cover ups completely buried by our so called "news". See Mediastan.

  26. Obi Won

    Haha - read again after a few drinks. Basically addressing USA citizens who close their eyes to this.
    Actually is very prescient is talknig about the centuries damage we are doing - if not millenial by the hundreds of complete holocausts we are inflicitng the world over is being covered up and 99% of Amerika believe the "official" story on NPR, CBS, MSN…

  27. Obi Won

    And some people - in fact most - will believe the "official" lie, Chris.

  28. Obi Won

    Required voting - really? The Bush gang, idol psychopaths like North. You are right on! IT is laughable they hoodwink our supposed smartest and upper middle class. Amazing they refuse to acknowledge the ghastly crimes they support via voting Republican - and now Dem is the same thing!?

  29. shirleyjlegare

    i can't believe anyone who watched this video could possible be concerned about right or left wind atrocity. call me names if you like but i cried through the unthinkable horror of and destruction unleashed on the people of panama. My son served in desert storm. at the time he or i had no idea of the way our government was falsely presenting information to the people of this country to get our backing to to go to war. it doesn't matter what side of the isle you fall on. there is enough blame to go around several times! i don't think the people of panama and all the other countries we've invaded for similar reasons would much care if we finger pointed. they see us all as one country, so get over yourself and understand we are all to blame for these atrocities no matter what side of the isle we vote.

    my son lived through desert storm. i don't think you'll find me passively sitting by if my government comes up with another little war or wants to invade countries as they have done in the past and invites my grandson, great grandson, nephews or your children for that matter to participate. if it happens i hope you agree our children will be staying home and we my fellow country-men and women will marching on washington to take the government back our founders meant for us to have. we must stand up and be counted in this country, in this world, in this universe. may the good force be with us and inside us.

  30. WeeWax

    The YouTube account is gone along with this vital information. Anyone know where to find another copy?

  31. Sinistrari

    Panama is, or was, very close to paradise. Most of the people were friendly, great climate, wonderful beaches, and so on. If the US government would sink the money into restoring Panama the way they did Japan, it could be a complete paradise. But, that will not happen.

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