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Schumer Calls For Probe Of Iraqi Oil Deal

Sen. Charles Schumer called Monday for an independent probe into the Iraqi government’s decision to open the country’s oil fields to foreign oil companies.

“This is a head fake by the Iraqi government,” Schumer said just hours after the Iraqis announced their plan. “The Iraqis have shown they will pursue these contracts at all costs, their nation’s political stability be damned.”

Schumer criticized the Iraqi government for signing the deal before an oil revenue sharing law is in place, saying the decision could potentially inflame sectarian tensions within Iraq.

The New York Democrat said he plans to offer an amendment to an upcoming defense authorization bill requiring the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study on the law’s potential consequences.

Expect other lawmakers to follow Schumer’s lead in blasting the deal, as the announcement is a potential two-for-one special for Democrats, eager to argue that the Bush administration is trying to control Iraqi oil resources and trying to steer the revenues to large oil companies.

On Monday, The New York Times reported that the State Department helped draw up contracts between the Iraqi Oil Ministry and five major oil companies. Although no contracts have been formally awarded, the Times reported that Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP, Total and Chevron were all expected to be awarded no-bid contracts from the Iraqi government.
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