Panama Invasion Weeks 8 & 9: Are They Ever Leaving?

Troop Withdrawal?

The following is an analysis of two articles from the New York Times owned SB News Press. The first appeared February 2, 1990 on Page 6 with a 12-point headline and 2½ inches of writing. This small article with its tiny headline is included in its entirety.


US. troops based in Panama plan to sustain patrols

Knight-Ridder news service

PANAMA CITY --Despite the announced withdrawal of US. invasion troops from Panama by the end of this month, US soldiers who were based there before Dec. 20 intervention will continue military duties in Panama, U. S officials said Thursday.

Until the offensive that toppled Panamanian Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega, an estimated 13,600 US troops in Panama were confined to US military bases, as required under provisions of the 1977 Panama Canal treaties. US. officials say it is unclear when the remaining US. troops will return to their bases in Panama.

“We will continue to run joint patrols (with the newly formed Panamanian Public Force), and to man checkpoints, “ said a spokesman for the US. Southern Command. “But it will be done with regular Southern Command troops.”


The second appeared February 14, 1990 on Page 3 with a 20-point headline followed by 7 inches of writing. Only the salient features of this small article with its enormous headline are included here.

Last invasion forces pulled out of Panama

Associated Press

Washington -- The United States has withdrawn all of its invasion troops from Panama, leaving a US. force of 13,504 in the country, White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said Tuesday. President Bush promised in his Jan. 31 State of the Union address to bring the invasion troops home by the end of February.

US. troop strength in Panama is now just under the 13,596 stationed there before the Dec. 20 US. offensive that toppled Panamanian Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega, ... US. troop levels have fluctuated by a few thousand in recent years. Fitzwater said 13,000 is an average.

Still in Panama are 2,000 troops Bush sent to Panama in a show-of-force to demonstrate his unhappiness over the May 7 election, which was invalidated by Noriega.

Why are they lying?


The Facts Don’t Add Up

Headline Harry: “Wow! How about that! ‘Last invasion forces pulled out of Panama’. Incredible. Less than 2 months after the original liberation. See I told you that the resistance forces would rapidly melt away.”

Dim Dune: “But did you read the article a few weeks ago which said that even though we are withdrawing some of our troops that the rest would continue patrolling the streets – acting as a police force to maintain public order.”

Harry: “What article?”

Dune: “It was in the middle of the first section. It reported that before the invasion that our forces were confined to the Canal Zone. Since then they have roamed the streets freely all decked out with machine guns and battle fatigues.”

Harry: “If it was in the middle I would have never seen it unless it had a big headline.”

Dune: “Tiny headline – ‘US. troops based in Panama plan to sustain patrols’ – tiny article.”

Harry: “Must not have been that important.”

Dune: “Says that they will continue run joint patrols with the newly formed Panamanian Public Forces and to man checkpoints. But that our forces will remain firmly in charge. Why do you think that is?”

Harry: “What?”

Dune: “That our forces will remain in charge in their newly liberated country?”

Harry: “They obviously still need our expertise.”

Dune: “Or we don’t trust our new allies to provide security. And what about these checkpoints?”

Harry: “What about them?”

Dune: “Why do we need checkpoints if the country has returned to normal after being subdued?”

Harry: “Drugs?”

Dune: “And the Panamanian Public Forces? Is that like a police force? What happened to their previous police force?”

Harry: “Allies of Noriega. Had to be removed.”

Dune: “Eliminated. Did you notice that Bush sent 2000 troops into Panama after the election as a sign of his displeasure with Noriega’s invalidation of the results? A 15% increase in manpower. Sounds intimidating.”

Harry: “Where did you read that – one of your subversive sources?”

Dune: “It was at the end of the second article – ‘the last invasion forces pulled out’ article.”

Harry: “Really? I just read the headlines. Sounds like everything has returned to normal. Makes me feel good.”

Dune: “American troops roaming the streets in battle gear and manning checkpoints rather than ‘being confined to US military bases.’ – ‘Unclear when they will return to their bases.’ Makes me wonder what’s happening down there that they need so much firepower. Why do we need to have our soldiers in the streets of a liberated country?”

Harry: “Just the disgruntled opposition – a few of Noriega’s buddies making trouble for the rest.”

Dune: “Sounds like more than just a few if it takes 13,000 of our troops to restore order.”

Harry: “We’re helping out all over the world. Makes me proud to be an American.”

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