Another Spooked-Up BushCo Crony Dabbling in Kurdistan

It was bad enough that PFIAB member and Bush uber-donor Ray Hunt was doing business in Kurdistan. That put one of the President’s top private advisors on intelligence, someone who has access to a great deal of classified intelligence, and someone whose privately held company evades all kinds of public scrutiny, setting up shop in Iraq and potentially contributing to its destabilization.

But now we learn that Richard Perle has joined Hunt in the oil rush in Kurdistan (h/t egregious).

Mr. Perle, one of a group of security experts who began pushing the case for toppling Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein about a decade ago, has been discussing a possible deal with officials of northern Iraq’s Kurdistan regional government, including its Washington envoy, according to these people and the documents.

It would involve a tract called K18, near the Kurdish city of Erbil, according to documents describing the plan.

It’s bad enough that the former Defense Policy Board Chair and one of the big champions of the war is looking to get rich off of Kurdistan’s oil. More troubling, though, is that he’s doing so via a company that seems to be the pure incarnation of the kinds of dubious Turkish ties that Sibel Edmonds has talked about.

A consortium founded by Turkish company AK Group International is seeking rights to drill there, the documents say. Potential backers include two Turkish companies as well as Kazakhstan, according to individuals involved.

AK’s chief executive is Aydan Kodaloglu, who, like Mr. Perle, has been involved with the American Turkish Council, an advocacy group in Washington. She didn’t respond to requests for comment. Phyllis Kaminsky, who identified herself as the U.S. contact for Ms. Kodaloglu, said she herself was aware of the drilling plan but referred questions about it to Mr. Perle.

"Richard would know the most," Ms. Kaminsky said. "He is involved, I know that."

Without going too deeply into Edmonds’ allegations, let me just say by far the best treatment I’ve seen of it is Chris Floyd’s piece seeing the murky relationships that Edmonds reported to be an outgrowth of (I’d say a reincarnation of) the amorphous networks of influence, money laundering, legally sanctioned covert ops, illegal ops, and arms deals normally referred to as BCCI. Read more

Why Is the State Department “Hunting” for Deals for Bush’s Oil Buddy?

Man, Condi Rice has got to be tired of getting damning letters from Henry Waxman.

This one shows that, despite very specific denials from the Bush Administration that they knew anything about Bush buddy and uber-donor Ray Hunt scoring one of the first oil deals with Kurdish Iraq, the State Department was in fact very well informed about the deal.

Documents obtained by the Committee indicate that contrary to the denials of Administration officials, advisors to the President and officials in the State and Commerce Departments knew about Hunt Oil’s interest in the Kurdish region months before the contract was executed.

The documents show:

  • On June 12 and 15,2007, Hunt Oil officials met with officials from the U.S. Regional Reconstruction Team (RRT) for the Kurdistan region, located in Erbil, "to investigate investment prospects" in the Kurdish region.6 During the June 15 meeting, the Hunt Oil officials "specifically asked if the [U.S.] had a policy toward companies entering contracts with the KRG.7 According to notes taken by Hunt Oil officials, they were told the "U.S. has no policy, for nor against."8 Synopses of these meetings were sent to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad as part of weekly situation reports on June 14 and 21,2007.9
  • On July 12,2007, Ray Hunt, president and CEO of Hunt Oil, sent a letter to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, of which he was a member, making clear his intentions to pursue oil exploration in Kurdistan. Mr. Hunt disclosed that Hunt Oil was "approached a month or so ago by representatives of a private group in Kurdistan as to the possibility of our becoming interested in that region."10 He went on to describe the visit of an oil survey team and stated that "we were encouraged by what we saw. We have a larger team going back to Kurdistan this week."11
  • In August 2007, Hunt Oil representatives exchanged e-mails with State Department personnel discussing their return to Kurdistan in late August to "assess business opportunities in Kurdistan. 12
  • On August 30, 2007, Ray Hunt sent a second letter to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board informing the board that he would be traveling to Kurdistan during the week of September 3,2007, to meet with members of the Kurdistan Regional Government, including the President, Prime Minister, and Oil Minister. 13 Read more

Monday Cheney Games

Vice President Cheney and his lovely wife have snuck off to Dallas for a secret visit (h/t TP).

Vice President Dick Cheney was visiting Dallas on Monday for undisclosed reasons.

I was going to engage in some utterly irresponsible guessing about why the Vice President (and his lovely wife) would need to steal off to Dallas without any warning: heart surgery, quail hunting, and Halliburton meetings all came to mind.

But then I read Ken Silverstein’s account of mounting fighting between Turkey and the Kurds.

The Turkish offensive, which has been green-lighted by the Bush Administration, was criticized by the Iraqi government. “We know the threats that Turkey is facing, but military operations will not solve the PKK problem,” a government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, told The Guardian. Meanwhile, Kurdish anger towards the United States is growing. “We are their friends and we thought we were their allies,” the newspaper quoted Muhammad Qadir, a shopkeeper in Irbil, as saying. “We don’t support the PKK, but we are angry that the Americans are allowing the Turks to wage war against our fellow Kurds.”

A former U.S. official who works in northern Iraq emailed me to say:

The United States is being skillfully handled by the Turks, who are dragging the U.S. into a policy disaster in Kurdistan. The Kurds have moved a lot of fighters and equipment quietly into the area, and are prepared to strike the Turks. Massoud [Barzani, the Iraqi Kurdish leader] has issued all the press comments he can to publicly warn that Kurdish patience is gone. The United States is either ignoring the signals or missing them…The Kurds can and will bloody the Turks badly in a fight.

And I couldn’t help but recall that Ray Hunt, the spooked up oil billionaire who made his own private deals with the Kurds, lives in Dallas. Read more