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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
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”