October 26, 2015
Go to NPR for full interview
– I am Tom Ashbrook, this is On Point and we are talking today with investigative journalist Robert Parry, 2015 winner of I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence about the sate of American media and what we don’t know about our own country’s story. He is editor of ConsortiumNews.com. What’s the missing history today? Are we asking the hard questions? Let’s go straight to Jeffery in Miami, Florida.
– I think that one of the balls that got dropped greatly by the press has been that George Bush was trying to distribute $12 billion of Saddam Hussein’s money, took the cash and brought it into the tribal leaders of Iraq. And I believe that was the start of ISIS and not anything else. And I think that the press basically abandoned that story and left the general public either to not know about it or to have very few of us know about it, and therefore have very little discussion at all.
– We do remember those photographs of bails of cash flying around in the hauls of huge cargo jets, Robert Parry, where do you look for what ought to be more illuminated today?
– I think Jefferey has a good point. What happened with the billions of dollars of not just Saddam Hussein’s money, but money that came from the US treasury and was shipped over to Iraq – a part of what was done with that money, according to intelligence sources, it was paid to some of the Sunni tribal leaders and some of the former soldiers who had been decommissioned from Saddam’s army after the US invasion, during the surge period not to attack American troops.
Going back to 2006 and 2007 you had large sums of money that were going to these fairly radical Sunny, but so much as military people. So they were stockpiled with lots of cash. And when things got worse and worse between the Sunnis and the Shiites, the Malaki government essentially turning on the Shiites, that did provide some funding mechanism for the Sunnis to organize and we now know that group to be the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria.
They of course then moved into Syria, where they also carried on the struggle between the Sunni and the Alawite offshoot of Shia Islam. And so you have the sectarian struggle, which the United States really touched off by invading Iraq and then in a sense, as Jeffrey suggested, exasperated by trying to tamp down the violence against American soldiers provided some of the means for this later to develop into something else even more dangerous.
There were a lot of unintended consequences in that and I think it’s part of our history, and we never had an official examination in the United States of what happened in the Iraqi war. It has been left as an unexplored chapter. Yes, we know there have been pieces broken by various journalists, and some of it we sort of know, but there has never been an effort to do a comprehensive examination of how this happened, how these trillions of dollars were spent overall, how the 4,500 of American soldiers died, how the hundreds of thousands Iraqis died and how this has now spread to become not just a regional problem of destabilization but it is now reaching even into Europe to destabilize Europe.
This is a very important part of our history and this does fit into that theme that we are talking about that the American people have not been given the full story by any means.