Waxman Says White House Knew About Hunt Oil Deal In Iraq

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House oversight committee Chairman Henry Waxman says the Bush Administration knew about the September 2007 deal that Texas-based Hunt Oil struck with Kurdish officials in Iraq.

That contradicts what President Bush said at the time.

That deal was controversial because it came at a time of precarious negotiations in Baghdad about a possible revenue-sharing agreement between the warring factions in Iraq. The Kurds decision to forge a deal independent of the Baghdad government angered the Sunni and Shia Arabs in Iraq.

In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Waxman asked for further information about the U.S. involvement in Iraqi oil deals, the Hunt Oil deal as well as more recent deals. He quoted the president speaking shortly after the deal was announced almost a year ago.

Administration officials criticized the Hunt Oil contract because it jeopardized the efforts of the Iraqi parliament to come to an agreement on the national oil legislation. When President Bush was asked about the Hunt Oil contract, he stated:

“I knew nothing about the deal. I need to know exactly how it happened. To the extent that it does undermine the ability for the government to come up with an oil revenue sharing plan that unifies the country, obviously if it undermines it I’m concerned”

Waxman said his committee has conducted an investigation of the Hunt Oil deal.

The documents that the Committee has received tell a different story about the role of Administration officials. Ray Hunt, the head of Hunt Oil, personally informed advisors to President Bush of meetings he and other Hunt Oil officials planned with representatives of the Kurdish government. Other Hunt Oil officials kept State Department officials informed about the company’ s intentions.

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