Sunday, October 10, 2004

Did Democratic donor profit from Oil for Food?

It was a foregone conclusion that Americans would sooner or later be connected to the oil for food scandal, but had anyone associated with the Bush administration been linked, we would certainly be hearing about it from the fact, that is probably the only thing we would be hearing.

However, one article has already appeared, linking several U.S. firms to the scheme:

WASHINGTON - Major U.S. oil companies and a Houston oil investor were among those who received lucrative vouchers that enabled them to buy Iraqi oil under the U.N. oil-for-food program, according to a report prepared by the CIA's chief arms inspector.

The 918-page report says that four American oil companies — Chevron, Mobil, Texaco and Houston-based Bay Oil — and three individuals, including Oscar Wyatt, were given vouchers and got 111 million barrels of oil between them from 1996 to 2003. The vouchers allowed them to profit by selling the oil or the right to trade it.

The other individuals, whose names appeared on a secret list kept by the former Iraqi government, were Samir Vincent of Annandale, Va., and Shakir Al-Khafaji of West Bloomfield, Mich., according to the report by the inspector, Charles Duelfer.

The fact that these companies and individuals received oil from Iraq does not mean that they did anything illegal, experts on the program said. Such allocations may have been proper if the individuals and companies received appropriate U.N. approval.

However, according to Newsweek, Wyatt has a bit of a history of giving to a certain political group:
Law-enforcement sources say Americans who participated in alleged oil-for-food scams also may face further investigation. The CIA deleted from Duelfer's report names of Saddam's U.S. oil-for-food favorites. But an uncensored copy of the Duelfer report obtained by NEWSWEEK indicates Houston oil mogul Oscar Wyatt got oil allocations from Saddam which could have earned him and Coastal Corp.—a company he founded and ran until 2000—profits of more than $22 million. Wyatt and wife Lynn are major donors to political causes: since 1989 they have given nearly $700,000 in contributions, of which more than $500,000 went to Democrats. Wyatt told NEWSWEEK that his company did buy oil from Saddam but that he never did so personally, and that his company's dealings all complied with U.N. rules.
Houston's Clear Thinkers also has a little more about Wyatt's political leanings:
Mr. Wyatt, who is 79 years old, has long been one of Houston's most outspoken businessmen. He founded Coastal Corp. and turned it into a natural gas giant before retiring as its chairman in 1997. El Paso Corp. bought Coastal in 2001 for $22.6 billion, and Mr. Wyatt's public (and caustic) displeasure with El Paso's management generated an unsuccessful proxy battle to oust El Paso's board last year. Another example of Mr. Wyatt's outspoken nature was his public opposition to Operation Desert Storm in the first Iraq War in 1991, which was led by fellow Houstonian President George H.W. Bush.
The Houston Chronicle has a bit more too:
Wyatt has had a long relationship with Saddam, dating back to before the Gulf War when his company Coastal Corp. was a major buyer of Iraqi oil. He won fame in 1991 by taking his company's plane to Iraq to pick up American citizens being held hostage during the run up to the war.

He also did business with the Libyan leader, Col. Moammar Gadhafi. In 2000, Coastal Corp. merged with El Paso Corp. Wyatt is still a large shareholder in El Paso, but he is not an executive with the company, which last month received the subpoena related to the Iraqi oil deals.

Wyatt Announced in March 1997 that he would retire and begin lobbying in Washington to lift sanctions against Iraq and Libya.

The lifting of sanctions is exactly what Saddam was hoping for so he could restart his WMD program, according to the recent CIA report. Of course, the MSM will probably headline this with a variation of "Texas Oil Man Linked to Saddam" to try to tie this to Bush. If fact, the New York Times has already attempted to link it to Bush, Cheney and Halliburton. We'll see how this plays out.


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