Iraqi 4th of July Sale--Big Markdowns by America
In the world of insider-deals, there are good deals, extra-good deals and deals that are so good as to be slightly criminal. In the recent butchering and shrink-wrapping of sovereign Iraqi oil, the latest poster piggly-wiggly is Ray Hunt, a Texas acquaintance of George Bush and Hunt Oil trust-fund-baby.
(Steven Mufson, Washington Post)
Bush Officials Condoned Regional Iraqi Oil Deal
Contract Contradicted State Dept.'s Public Stance
Bush administration officials told Hunt Oil last summer that they did not object to its efforts to reach an oil deal with the Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq, even while the State Department was publicly expressing concern that such contracts could undermine a national Iraqi petroleum law, according to documents obtained by a House committee.
Last fall, after the deal was announced, the State Department said that it had tried to dissuade Hunt Oil from signing the contract with Kurdish regional authorities but that the company had proceeded "regardless of our advice." Although Hunt Oil's chief executive has been a major fundraiser for President Bush, the president said he knew nothing about the deal.
This of course wouldn't be the first deal the president "knew nothing about," but it's part of a winding-down of the fire sale of American assets before he leaves office. Except this gift is not American. He has, for reasons known best to himself and his piggly-wiggly Texas friends, begun the final stretch of giving away Iraq.
(Wikipedia) In 2006 Forbes estimated that Ray’s family's net worth increased from $200 million to $4 billion.The 'friends in high places' effect. This little piggy went to Iraq, that little piggy stayed home. This little piggy made billions, that little piggy made none.
"Kenny-Boy" Lay (Enron) did the honorable thing and died of a heart attack just prior to being sent to the slammer for 25 years. That largest of the large corporate fraud-related collapses caught Bush ignorant of the facts as well.
But Ken Lay is just another Texas friend (and heavy contributor) and we're writing here about the gift of Iraq's sovereign interests. Sovereign, by the way (as in sovereign state), means 'not controlled by outside forces.'
Bush keeps calling Iraq a sovereign state, but it's hard even for him to keep a straight face.
Yesterday, however, Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, released documents and e-mails showing that for nearly four months, State and Commerce department officials knew about Hunt Oil's negotiations and had told company officials that there were no objections. In one note, a Commerce Department official even wished them "a fruitful visit to Kurdistan" and invited them to contact him "in case you need any support."
Fruitful doesn't even half say it--cornucopian is a better adjective. Even so, one thing that has been confirmed in this Congress is that anything even glanced at by Henry Waxman's black hole of oversight and reform is sucked forever from the nasty glare of oversight and reform. Henry is chairmanship refined to political perfection, evolved to an almost Zen state of stagnation.
There was a time when a discouraging word from the State Department, particularly in something so sensitive as the dismantling of a sovereign (there's that word again) nation's natural resources, might kill a deal. Then Colin Powell, who naively thought he was supposed to implement foreign policy, realized there was no foreign policy in this administration. There was a profit policy. Completing the hat-trick, Colin was kicked out and Bush's alter-ego, Condoleeza Rice, took over.
It's been downhill from there. That's saying a lot in a two-term administration where downhill was an acceptable direction.
That guidance contradicted the administration's public posture. The Bush administration made an Iraqi national petroleum law, which has still not been adopted, a top priority last year in the hope it would more tightly bind the country's regions together and open the way for international oil companies to invest in much larger oil fields south of Iraq's Kurdish region. The State Department said, and continues to assert, that it opposes any contract with a regional Iraqi authority in the absence of a national petroleum law.
Smoke and mirrors. Between bind the country's regions together and open the way for international oil companies to invest, the operative phrase is open the way. Iraq is being raped after having had its civil structure destroyed, along with any remote possibility of political reconciliation. It cost a trillion dollars, but the terms of Cheney's secret energy task force (2000) have been implemented. Best of all, it wasn't the energy sector's money, it was yours and mine.
The cost in lives for this shared prosperity is the worst of it.
The Hunt Oil deal was seen by Kurdish officials as a key victory because the company's chief executive, Ray L. Hunt, was not only a major backer of Bush but also a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. After the deal was completed, a dozen other foreign firms signed oil contracts with Kurdish authorities.
A member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board? How, by any stretch of the imagination, does a Texan with no experience in foreign intelligence rate that?
As to the contracts, the predator brings down the prey, eats his fill and then (and only then) the rest of the pack jumps in to rip up what tidbits are left. An old and honored law of both jungle and insider-trading.
State Department spokesman Tom Casey said yesterday that "we continue to stand by our previous statements that the U.S. government made its objections to this arrangement known both to the company as well as to the KRG [Kurdistan Regional Government]."
But in a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Waxman said documents his committee had obtained "tell a different story about the role of Administration officials."
The documents show that as early as June 12, 2007, Hunt Oil officials met with members of the State Department's Regional Reconstruction Team for the Kurdistan region in Erbil and on June 15 specifically asked whether there was a policy about companies entering contracts with Kurdish authorities. According to notes taken by Hunt Oil officials, they were told that the "U.S. has no policy, for nor against."
Divide and conquer, trash the rules, confuse issues, deny and deny and deny. Pretty soon you're out of office, skillfully un-indicted and all your friends and supporters got rich. A few kids killed along the way, but hey, stuff happens.
Question: What do Bush and Hunt both owe to their daddies? Answer: Everything.
Question: What have they done with that legacy? Answer: Destroyed a significant part of the world at enormous cost to others and profited from the result.
They used to call that war-profiteering and folks went to jail for it. But that was back before 9-11, before the shell-game that has become government policy under these intellectual midgets who call themselves men.