State Dept Officials Knew Of Iraq Oil Deal WIth Company Tied To Bush

07/10/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • JAMES GLANZ and RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr. New York Times

Bush administration officials knew that a Texas oil company with close ties to President Bush was planning to sign an oil deal with the regional Kurdistan government that runs counter to American policy and undercut Iraq's central government, a Congressional committee has concluded.

The conclusions were based on e-mail messages and other documents that the committee released Wednesday.

United States policy is to warn companies that they incur risks in signing contracts until Iraq passes an oil law and to strengthen Iraq's central government. The Kurdistan deal, by ceding responsibility for writing contracts directly to a regional government, infuriated Iraqi officials. But State Department officials did nothing to discourage the deal and in some cases appeared to welcome it, the documents show.

The company, Hunt Oil of Dallas, signed the deal with Kurdistan's semiautonomous government last September. Its chief executive officer, Ray L. Hunt, a close political ally of President Bush, briefed an advisory board to Mr. Bush on his contacts with Kurdish officials before the deal was signed.

In an e-mail message released by the Congressional committee, a State Department official in Washington, briefed by a colleague about the impending deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government, wrote: "Many thanks for the heads up; getting an American company to sign a deal with the K.R.G. will make big news back here. Please keep us posted."

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