Washington Babylon — August 25, 2008, 8:02 am

How Hunt Oil Buys and Sell(s)

Remember those stories last month about how the Bush administration seemed to give Hunt Oil a wink before it signed a controversial deal in Kurdistan? “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 ran counter to American policy and undercut Iraq’s central government, a Congressional committee has concluded,” said a New York Times piece in early July.

Hunt Oil of Dallas signed the deal…last September. Its chief executive, 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.”

A number of similar stories ran around the same time. None of them seem to have noticed that a Bush/Cheney crony who had been traveling the world as Deputy Energy Secretary — Clay Sell — left his job five months after Hunt inked its deal in Kurdistan to take a senior position in the Washington office of — that’s right — Hunt Oil.

Sell was sworn in as Deputy Secretary of Energy in March of 2005. In that post, he played “a vital role in maintaining and strengthening the economic and national security of the Nation while supporting the important scientific and research missions conducted by the Department of Energy” said his government bio. Previously Sell had served on the National Economic Council, where he was “the President’s primary advisor on issues pertaining to energy and natural resources, and he coordinated the development and implementation of the Administration’s energy policy.”

Prior to that Sell worked as Staff Director of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee (under chairman Ted Stevens) between 2000 and 2003, and before that served on the Bush-Cheney Transition as part of the energy policy team.

Sell signed on with Hunt earlier this year as senior vice president. There’s no public record of his being aware of Hunt’s Kurdistan maneuvers, but given the top position he held at the Energy Department (and his globe-trotting while there) he surely is a handy acquisition for the company.

Not that Hunt Oil wasn’t already well connected. Its chairman was a Bush “Pioneer” (and the “company’s public affairs chief, Jeanne Johnson Phillips, was one of the architects of the Pioneer program”). Ray Hunt also serves, having been appointed by Bush, on the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board

Share
Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

Commentary November 17, 2015, 6:41 pm

Shaky Foundations

The Clintons’ so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich family friends.

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

August 2016

Atlas Aggregated

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Origins of Speech

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Four in Verse

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Sigh and a Salute

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Four in Prose

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Don the Realtor

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
Martin Amis on the rise of Trump, Tom Wolfe on the origins of speech, Art Spiegelman on Si Lewen, fiction by Diane Williams, and more

In Havana, the past year has been marked by a parade of bold-faced names from the north — John Kerry reopening the United States Embassy; Andrew Cuomo bringing a delegation of American business leaders; celebrities ranging from Joe Torre, traveling on behalf of Major League Baseball to oversee an exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team, to Jimmy Buffett, said to be considering opening one of his Margaritaville restaurants there. All this culminated with a three-day trip in March by Barack Obama, the first American president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. But to those who know the city well, perhaps nothing said as much about the transformation of political relations between the United States and Cuba that began in December 2014 as a concert in the Tribuna Antiimperialista.

Illustration by Darrel Rees
Article
Don the Realtor·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"If you have ever wondered what it’s like, being a young and avaricious teetotal German-American philistine on the make in Manhattan, then your curiosity will be quenched by The Art of the Deal."
Photograph (detail) © Polly Borland/Exclusive by Getty Images
Article
The Origins of Speech·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"To Chomsky...every child’s language organ could use the 'deep structure,' 'universal grammar,' and 'language acquisition device' he was born with to express what he had to say, no matter whether it came out of his mouth in English or Urdu or Nagamese."
Illustration (detail) by Darrel Rees. Source photograph © Miroslav Dakov/Alamy Live News
Article
A Sigh and a Salute·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Si told me that various paintings had spoken to him, but he wished they had been hung closer together 'so they could talk to each other.' This observation planted a seed that would come to fruition years later in his mature work."
Artwork (detail) by Si Lewen
Article
El Bloqueo·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Amid the festivities and the flood of celebrities, it would be easy for Americans to miss that the central plank of the long-standing cold war against Cuba — the economic embargo — remains very much alive and well."
Photograph (detail) by Rose Marie Cromwell

Estimated temperature of Hell, according to two Spanish physicists ‘ interpretation of the Bible:

832°F

The ecosystems around Chernobyl, Ukraine, are now healthier than they were before the nuclear disaster, though radiation levels are still too high for human habitation.

A TSA agent in Seattle was arrested for taking up-skirt photos of women in the airport, a Maryland police officer was arrested for taking up-skirt photos of an off-duty colleague, and the Georgia Court of Appeals ruled that taking up-skirt photos is legal in the state.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Mississippi Drift

By

Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'

Subscribe Today