Let me begin by making one thing clear: I support the nomination of Brett H. McGurk to serve as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Iraq. He is eminently qualified for this post, in light of his extensive experience, under both Republican and Democratic administrations, dealing with the complex and sensitive issues that exist between the United States and Iraq.
Brett McGurk’s brilliance lies beyond dispute — he’s a member of the Elect, after all — and the same is true of his heroism and commitment to public service. In the late 1990s, while he was a summer associate at Cravath, he and a fellow summer rescued two drowning women during a beach outing gone awry. After graduating from Columbia Law School, he devoted his legal career to government service — clerking for Judge Dennis Jacobs (2d Cir.) and the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, working as a legal advisor to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, serving on the National Security Council, and counseling two past ambassadors to Iraq, Ryan Crocker and Christopher Hill. McGurk possesses vast expertise about Iraq, acquired through the many years he has spent advancing U.S. interests in the region — at considerable personal risk to himself.
If you are a high-minded individual, you can stop reading here. If you are less high-minded, keep reading to learn about the sexy email messages that Brett McGurk allegedly exchanged with a prominent (and attractive) journalist….
Please note the UPDATES added at the end of this post.
If you read through the extensive online commentary about Brett McGurk, you’ll hear different viewpoints about whether the purported emails (hereinafter “the McGurk emails”) have any bearing on his fitness to serve as U.S. ambassador to Iraq. One of our readers, a fellow former Supreme Court clerk who supports the McGurk nomination, believes they do not:
As fun as this stuff is for us to read, it always makes me sad when one’s personal life becomes public involuntarily like this; none of us would want this to happen to our romantic lives. But perhaps most importantly for present purposes, nothing in these emails has a material bearing on the kind of job he would do as ambassador.
I agree with this view. But here at Above the Law, we believe in providing our readers with both sides of the story. So we’ll tell you a bit about the emails and let you make up your own mind about their relevance (or lack thereof).
President Obama’s ambassadorial nominee to Iraq appears to have conducted a lascivious extramarital affair with a Wall Street Journal reporter while the duo were stationed in Iraq, according to a collection of often-explicit emails posted on the website Cryptome earlier this week.
The emails raise questions about the administration official’s fitness for the ambassadorship and whether he may have traded access to sensitive information for sexual favors.
If such allegations are true, well, it wouldn’t have been the first time. Sleeping with a source is one of the oldest tricks in a journalist’s book. I won’t name names, but many prominent media figures have gotten access through giving access. (As former ATL commenter Frat Stud might say, “Journalists at my high school used to sleep with sources all the time, it was no big deal.”)
The 2008 emails between Wall Street Journal reporter Gina Chon and former National Security Council member Brett McGurk, Obama’s nominee to be the next U.S. ambassador to Iraq, expose a torrid love affair that unfolded over a period of several months….
The explicit details contained in the missives indicate that McGurk, who was married at the time, dangled unprecedented access and information before Chon in return for a series of increasingly intimate sexual encounters. McGurk is now married to Chon.
A few observations. First, as history has shown, alleged infidelity hasn’t stopped countless individuals — including multiple presidents — from serving the nation capably. Second, the fact that McGurk and Chon are now married takes away a lot of the salaciousness here; it makes clear that any physical connection they might have had was backed up by emotional and intellectual connection as well.
(By the way, the linked Times wedding announcment reflects that McGurk was previously married to one Caroline Wong. It seems that McGurk has a weakness for Asian women. As an Asian American myself, I commend McGurk for his appreciation of beautiful lotus blossoms.)
Back to the Beacon:
McGurk was nominated by Obama in March to be the next U.S. envoy to Iraq. He served as an adviser to the last three U.S. ambassadors to Iraq, and later played the role of chief negotiator in the 2008 agreement that permitted U.S. troops to remain in that country. In 2011, he led failed talks aimed at prolonging the U.S. troop presence.
The recently unearthed emails reveal that McGurk’s extramarital relationship with Chon began during the arduous 2008 negotiations over the U.S.-Iraq security agreement — the sensitive details of which McGurk often hinted at over his unclassified exchanges with Chon.
McGurk expressed pride in the clandestine relationship more than four months after the fact, when he resends to Chon the series of sexually charged emails and brags about his prowess.
Is that a fair characterization of the McGurk emails? Let’s look at the underlying documents….