Waxman: White House Knew Of Hunt/Kurdistan Oil Contract
Today the House oversight committee released a reportasserting that the White House knew about an oil deal between the Kurdistan regional government and Texas-based Hunt Oil, though President George W. Bush had claimed he knew nothing about the contract before it was announced. According to the report, Ray Hunt, President of the company, talked to Bush administration advisers months before the deal was made. Also, officials at the Commerce and State departments encouraged the deal and even congratulated Hunt after obtaining the contract.
The deal embarrassed the Bush administration and outraged the Iraqi government when it was announced in September. Bush criticized both parties for making a deal that bypassed the Iraqi national government, especially impolitic as a national oil law was still not established.
In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, committee chair Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) asked whether the Bush administration also played a bigger role than they claim in recent Iraq oil contracts given to Exxon Mobile, Shell, BP and Chevron. The New York Times reported Monday that the State Dept. assisted the Iraq oil ministry in rewarding these contracts.
The nature of this assistance and how much it’s dictated Iraqi oil deals is unknown. Surely, though, Rice will immediately respond to Waxman’s questions and the matter will quickly be settled.