Years 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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