The Case Against the General: Manuel Noriega and the Politics of American Justice

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9780684193755: The Case Against the General: Manuel Noriega and the Politics of American Justice

In a book that captures the courtroom drama of the Noriega trial, the author pieces together the case against the former Panamanian dictator, revealing the true extent of his dealings with drug lords and his access to classified information.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

An exhaustive recapitulation of how the US nailed Manuel Noriega, Panama's erstwhile strongman, on drug-trafficking and racketeering charges. Drawing on apparently open access to prosecutors and defense counsel, Albert (an editor of The Recorder, a San Francisco law journal) offers a detailed, if premeditatedly objective, account of a case with geopolitical implications. While he provides much background information--including a rundown on the reasons why the Justice Department sought to indict a military dictator who had ties to an alphabet soup of Washington-based agencies (CIA, DEA, NSC, etc.)--the author focuses on the events surrounding a precedent-setting trial that could take place only after American forces invaded Panama, captured its de facto head of state, and spirited him away to a maximum-security cell beneath Miami's federal courthouse. Albert does a fine job of recounting how government attorneys were able not only to piece together the structure of Colombia's Medell¡n cartel but also to link Noriega to its criminal activities in the US and elsewhere. In the process, he makes clear that Faustian bargains with narcoterrorists, murderers, money-launderers, corrupt officials, and other felons are a must in obtaining evidence enough to move against the likes of a Noriega. Covered as well are the tactics employed by both sides in presenting their cases to the jury and the difficult decisions faced by the presiding judge, who sentenced the 58-year-old defendant to lengthy prison terms following his multiple-count conviction. By contrast, Albert merely touches on such issues as America's right to seize a putative fugitive in a foreign nation; the legality of the Panama incursion; the propriety of intercepting Noriega's phone calls while he was in detention; and whether, in the end, any real justice was done. An absorbing matter-of-fact narrative that, for lack of interpretative perspectives, begs consequential ethical and moral questions. (Eight-page photo insert--not seen) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

Albert, an editor of a legal newspaper, The Recorder , presents a thorough and lively investigative report on the controversial trial of former Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega, who was seized as part of the American invasion of Panama in December 1989. Written in a you-are-there fashion, his book leaves the evaluation of the verdict up to the reader. Albert has taken complex legal issues and the tangle of Central American political intrigue and rendered them understandable to the general reader. The work provides a valuable case study in American legal procedures as well as a follow-up to works on the 1989 events: Kevin Buckley's Panama: The Whole Story ( LJ 6/1/91); Frederick Kempe's Divorcing the Dictator: America's Bungled Affair with Manuel Noriega (Putnam, 1990); and John Dinges's Our Man in Panama: The Shrewd Rise and Brutal Fall of Manuel Noriega , LJ 4/1/90). Recommended for large public libraries and for academic libraries.
- James Rhodes, Luther Coll., Decorah, Ia.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Steve Albert
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