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the Las Vegas Sun

Profiting From Iraq

Kurdish deal with Texas oilman smacks of crony deal for friend of President Bush’s


There is a lot of money to be made in Iraq. Apparently, all it takes is the right connections to get a piece of the action. Halliburton Co. had those connections. The Houston-based oil services company that was once run by Vice President Dick Cheney set the gold standard for war profiteering. Now comes word that Dallas billionaire Ray Hunt, a crony of President Bush's and a member of the president's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, is getting his share of the spoils.

In a Washington Post story last week it was reported that Hunt's oil company struck a deal last year with Kurdish regional officials in northern Iraq even though the State Department had warned that such contracts would undermine a proposed national Iraqi petroleum law. The proposed law would encourage international oil companies to deal with the central government rather than regional authorities and is being pushed by the Bush administration as part of its strategy to unify Iraq.

But the Post reported that documents released by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform show that the State Department was aware of the Hunt oil deal with Kurdistan and raised no objections.

This is yet another example of the Bush administration's saying one thing, in this case advocating a national petroleum law, and doing another by looking the other way as Hunt makes a mad dash for cash. We should not be shocked by this. The administration, by its actions or lack thereof, clearly condones war profiteering.

Some critics argue that this is the real reason Bush went to war in Iraq. Though the administration continues to say the reason for the war is to rid that region of the globe from terrorism, side deals such as those benefiting Hunt certainly give skeptics fodder to argue otherwise.

The United States is better than that. It should stand for more than war profiteering. Accordingly, crony deals such as those struck by Hunt should be voided immediately.

© Las Vegas Sun, 2008

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