New report links Bush advisor to Iraq oil deal
Adding new fuel to the fire over the roots of the Iraq war, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has released a slew of documents--e-mail correspondence and letters--that raise questions about connections linking Bush administration officials and a Texas oil company seeking business in Iraq.
In a statement introducing the documents, the committee--whose chairman, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) has long been a thorn in the side of the Bush administration--says the papers "show that administration officials knew about Hunt Oil's interest in the Kurdish region months in advance, contradicting claims that administration officials were caught off-guard and opposed Hunt Oil's actions."
The New York Times' account of the document dump notes that the disclosure "has provided substantial fuel to critics of the Iraq war, both in the United States and abroad, who contend that the enormous Iraqi oil reserves were a motivation for the American-led invasion." The paper added that the administration has repeatedly denied such a link.
Bottom line: Ray L. Hunt, the company's chief executive and a Texan closely allied politically to President Bush, serves on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. As the company prepared to sign oil contracts with the regional government of Kurdistan, the State Department did not try to discourage it--although the deal undercut the central Iraqi government and ran contrary to U.S. government policy, which the Times notes is "to warn companies that they incur risks in signing contracts until Iraq passes and oil law..."