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Dems, White House Battle Over Iraqi Oil Contracts

Three Democratic senators voiced their opposition to Iraqi plans to enter into no-bid contracts with private oil companies Tuesday, citing concerns that the move would bolster the notion that the U.S. invaded Iraq for its oil and that it could lead to fighting among Iraq’s various factions.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said the deals could be “potentially harmful to our troops” if they led to more sectarian violence. They also “lend credence” to the notion that the war was fought for oil, he said.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said that Iraq is a “country that’s made corruption its middle name” and that “this is not a private sector matter. This is a government matter.”

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) agreed. “Signing oil contracts without a revenue sharing law is a recipe for disaster,” he said. “All the more astounding is the silence of the administration.”

Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the National Security Council, broke that silence to The Crypt--but noted that White House spokeswoman Dana Perino had already done so.

“This is a decision by a sovereign Iraq,” said Johndroe, adding that the administration didn’t necessarily disagree with it. “We want American companies investing in Iraq and we certainly want an Iraqi oil industry that is well serviced at a time of high gas prices.”

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