1989: Panama Invasion

Joe Biden promoted the lie that the U.S. was acting defensively when it invaded Panama to overthrow the CIA puppet narcoregime of Manuel Noriega.

FILE - In this Dec. 26, 1989 file photo, American soldiers take aim while searching suspects detained in front of the home of a business associate of Manuel Noriega in Panama City. Noriega, a onetime U.S. ally who was ousted by an American invasion in 1989, died late Monday, May 29, 2017, at age 83. (AP Photo/Ezequiel Becerra, File)
American soldiers search people detained in front of the home of a business associate of Manuel Noriega in Panama City on Dec. 26, 1989. Photo: Ezequiel Becerra/AP

In December 1989, President George H.W. Bush decided that the United States no longer needed Panamanian strongman, longtime CIA asset, and international narcotrafficker Manuel Noriega. The president authorized a full-scale invasion of Panama, claiming that the aim was to restore democracy and confront drug trafficking, which the U.S. had played a central role in facilitating. Despite the Bush administration’s overt refusal to invoke the War Powers Act, which it maintained was an “unconstitutional” infringement on the powers of the president, Joe Biden supported the invasion, saying Bush “made the proper decision to take action.” He called the operation “appropriate and necessary.” Biden portrayed the invasion of the nation run by a former U.S. puppet as a defensive action. “It is clear that American citizens increasingly were in jeopardy under the Noriega regime,” he said. The number of Panamanian civilians estimated to have been killed in the invasion is still contested, with most estimates ranging from 300 to 1,000 people. Human Rights Watch stated that “American forces inflicted a toll in civilian lives that was at least four-and-a-half times higher than military casualties in the enemy, and twelve or thirteen times higher than the casualties suffered by U.S. troops.”

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