Saturday, August 18, 2007

Snorting History

Scott Simon puts history in the blender (again) this morning when he interviews Richard Koster about Manuel Noriega, former US-sponsored dictator of Panama. Simon opens the report with the following: " a 1989 military invasion ordered after General Noriega violently suppressed political opposition in his country and because of his ties to international drug interests, but until just three years before that Manuel Noriega had reportedly been an informant for the CIA."
Here's just a few problems with this misinformation:
  • "...reportedly been an informant for the CIA." Wrong. Noriega was definitely on the CIA payroll for many years, the only "reportedly" is how much he received (perhaps $100,000 a year).
  • "after...violently suppressed political opposition" - Completely ignores the US support for the dictator and US satisfaction with years of repression in Panama.
  • "because of his ties to international drug interests" - ignores the US involvement in the Contra Drug trade and complicity with Noriega's drug dealing.
Simon ignores the most obvious reasons for the invasion. The US had lost control of a dictator who was not willing to allow Panama to be used for illegal war against Nicaragua.


JDinges said...

I happened to have written a book on Noriega and have the honor of being attacked (in the notes of his book) by Richard Koster. I did him the disservice of pointing out that he invented details of the Spadafora murder (specifically, that Spadafora was sexually attacked in addition to being decapitated.) The autopsy contradicts Koster, who was so outraged he called me a Marxist and a Noriega apologist.
Anyone who has read my book knows that is a hoot. I do have the details on Noriega's paychecks from the CIA and the Pentagon.
But I don't demonize Noriega, or make fun of his facial acne. He actually was more of a US collaborator in the war on drugs at the time of Bush's decision to invade. He had given up the drug trafficking and was an informant for the US again.
But you're wrong about the reason for the invasion. Noreiga was conspiring against Nicaragua's Sandinista, after having smuggled arms to them during the fight against Somoza.
He's no hero. Don't make the mistake of assuming that Bush's enemy must be a good guy. He wasn't anybody's hero, and the left makes a big mistake glorifying him as some kind of anti-imperialist progressive. He was playing both sides of the ideological fence until the very end. I explain to what extent he was a progressive in the Torijos line, but it is a weak progressive record.
Scott Simon's show made a mistake in giving Koster a forum. He is a fabricator, not a journalist. He happens to be a rightwing fabricator. But I have met both kinds.

John Dinges

Anonymous said...

If Noriega is to be released from Fla. he needs to have a butt load of security!
I lost four men in my team during the little campain and there are quite a few of us would like to see him removed from the gene pool!
He was a tirant when he was in power, a drug lord and a thief!
He can run to France but he can't hide forever!