As we reported earlier, Chairman Waxman of the House Oversight Committee claimed today that the Bush Administration knew about the Hunt Oil deal way before it happened– something the administration has denied regularly.
According to Waxman, there were nearly a dozen contacts between various levels of the administration and Hunt Oil as the deal was taking place. Hunt regularly informed the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board of his intentions to seek a deal with the Kurdistan government. Management at Hunt also regularly met and communicated with the U.S. Regional Reconstruction Team (RRT), as well as State Department personnel.
So let’s go through a little time line of the events and communication leading up to Sept. 8, 2007– the day the Hunt Oil deal was finalized with the Kurdistan government.
June 12 and 15: Hunt Oil officials meet with officials from the RRT for the Kurdistan region, “to investigate investment prospects” in the Kurdish region. Hunt Oil General Manager Ken McDonald, asks RRT members if the deal between Hunt Oil and Kurdistan is in violation of U.S. policy:
I specifically asked if the USG had a policy toward companies entering into contracts with the KRG and [redacted] replied that there was no policy, neither for nor against.
July 12, 2007: Ray Hunt, president and CEO of Hunt Oil sends a letter to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, letting them know he is pursuing an oil deal in Kurdistan:
We were approached a month or so ago by representatives of a private group in Kurdistan as to the possibÃlity of our becoming interested in that region. We had one team of geoscientists travel to Kurdistan several weeks ago and were encouraged by what we saw. We have a larger team going back to Kurdistan this week but who they will actually meet with while they are there and what the relationships of those people might be with the Government of Kurdistan are both unclear at this time.
August 2007: Hunt Oil representatives exchange a series of emails with State Department personnel discussing their return to Kurdistan.
August 30, 2007: Ray Hunt sends another letter to the Advisory Board to let them know he will be in Kurdistan the week of September 3:
While my schedule is still fluid, there is a high likelihood that I will meet with President Masoud Barzani, the Prime Minister, the Oil Minister and various other individuals associated with the government of Kurdistan.
September 5, 2007: McDonald informs the RRT in Erbil that “Hunt is expecting to sign an exploration contract” with the Kurdistan Regional Government. That same day, the RRT leader sends an e-mail summary of the meeting to the Embassy in Baghdad and the State Department headquarters in Washington. A second synopsis of the meeting is sent to the Embassy in Baghdad in a situation report the following day.
September 8, 2007: The Hunt Oil contract is finalized with the Kurdistan Regional Government.
September 13, 2007: A State Department official contacts Hunt Oil to describe another “good opportunity for Hunt” in Iraq, prompting a Hunt Oil official to write Ray Hunt: “This is really good for us. . .I find it a huge compliment that he is ‘tipping’ us off about this . . .This is a lucky break.”