• Competence v. Loyalty at State: The Return of McGurk

    March 11, 2013 // 27 Comments »

    They say one definition of mental illness is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.

    McGurk Gets a Job?

    Such is the story of the State Department and Brett McGurk. Having failed to appoint him U.S. Ambassador to Iraq (due to McGurk’s overall incompetence and sexual dalliance), the State Department simply gave him a sequester-proof salary and a made-up desk job and waited a bit before, now, apparently anointing him as the new Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) of State for both Iraq and Iran. The DAS job does not require Senate confirmation, the thing that tripped up McGurk the last time around.

    The Back Channel tells us that McGurk will likely be tapped as the next State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran. The State Department plans to combine the two offices because, well, McGurk likely can’t tell the difference between the two countries anyway, damn foreigners, and because there isn’t anything really that important going on in either place to justify its own DAS. The blog calls the appointment a “done deal.”

    Where to Begin?

    McGurk spent a good portion of the last ten years working for the U.S. Government in Iraq, advising several ambassadors and leading the failed negotiations to secure permanent U.S. bases there. You’d kinda think having that on your resume– I am partially responsible for everything that happened in Iraq for the last ten years, including America’s tail-between-its-legs retreat– might make it hard to get another job running Iraq policy. Who goes out of their way to hire the coach that lost most of his games?

    The other side of McGurk’s failed attempt at being ambassador was his questionable personal life, which in turn raised issues of judgement, decorum, discretion, and class. Like with Petraeus, it was sexual misconduct that brought the real questions of competence and ability to light.

    Six members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the time called on Obama to withdraw McGurk’s nomination, meaning that as DAS McGurk already enjoys a warm relationship with his key committee on the Hill. His appointment after the Senate nixed him will also no doubt enhance the State Department’s overall reputation during the budget process. And of course being the DAS and having everyone in your office know your sleazy backstory ensures you will be taken seriously.

    As well-documented across the internet, in addition to emails trading sex for access (a two way deal between McGurk and the then-Wall Street Journal’s Gina Chon [she resigned), we add another item, accusations of a McGurk sex tape from Iraq. The giver of the taped sex was a State Department Foreign Service Officer, gratefully female, inevitably Public Diplomacy.

    Elsewhere, the Washington Post reported that McGurk invited his then-mistress Gina Chon to be a guest lecturer at a Harvard course he taught in 2009. Harvard students attending the class had no idea that their teacher was romantically involved with Chon, who spoke to them about her experience reporting getting inside info by sleeping with her sources in Iraq, according to a student who attended.

    State Department at Work

    Only the Department of State today stands proudly alone declaring that no one else in the entire U.S. government, or the entire United States for that matter, is qualified to serve as ambassador to Iraq Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for both Iraq and Iran but a guy who has done nothing in his 39 years of life but be politically appointed to Iraq jobs (none earned, elected or competitively chosen, just appointed), making a selfish hash out of even that.

    McGurk is Not the Exception But the Rule

    McGurk’s supporters cite his years of experience in Iraq. But would you choose a heart surgeon who lost most of his patients on the operating table simply because he had been doing it for ten years? Experience is merely time served; competence requires judgement to be exercised.

    The issue of McGurk, however, is sadly not one in isolation at Foggy Bottom. While it is clear, ten years after, that the U.S. efforts in Iraq in general and the State Department-led reconstruction in the specific were almost complete failures, let’s look at (as an example) the chain of command that oversaw my own Provincial Reconstruction Teams’ efforts and see what happened to them all since:

    Me: Blacklisted by State

    My Boss: Now an Army contractor advising on reconstruction in Afghanistan

    His Boss (Not McGurk): A Deputy Assistant Secretary of State

    That Guy’s Boss: Appointed an Ambassador

    Her Boss: Appointed an Ambassador

    Ambassador to Iraq at the Time: Dean of the Korbel School of Diplomacy in Colorado

    His boss, Secretary Clinton: Waiting to become president in 2016.


    And that’s the saddest news of all: while the McGurk saga is perhaps a more extreme instance, and certainly more fun with its tawdry sex aspect than mere bureaucratic failure, the upward movement of failed people at the State Department exists almost as a policy. That policy, spelled out in a few words, is simple: people are rewarded for longevity at best, for keeping their mouths shut at worst, and competence is never really part of the calculus. While there are certainly competent people in senior positions within the State Department, they all had to primarily pass the tests of loyalty and time-served first.

    John Kerry? Yes, it’s your legacy calling, saying it has gone into hiding for its own protection…




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    McGurk Pulls Out

    June 18, 2012 // 9 Comments »

    For perhaps the first time, ambassador nominee Brett McGurk has withdrawn himself. In a letter sent Monday to Obama and Hillary, McGurk said he was removing himself from consideration for the job with a “heavy heart.” He said he was doing so after consulting with his most recent wife, Gina Chon, because he believed it was in the “best interests of the country, and of our life together, to withdraw my nomination and serve in another capacity.”

    And with that pull out, we conclude our double-entendre jokes in this matter.

    Brett, all joking aside, I feel for you man. I know how it is to have State turn on you, push you out of a job and all that. Despite some water under the bridge between us, I think maybe we could get along, you know, maybe hang out now that both of us have afternoons free. Whattaya say, we leave the wives at home and hit a few rooftop bars, see what comes up, um, goes down, aw dammit, I just did it again didn’t I?

    But we’re moving on. Who’s next to claim the head job at the world’s largest and most expensive embassy? The previous landlord, Jim Jeffrey, quit the job so quickly that he didn’t even wait for his replacement to arrive. Now everyone else in Iraq falls under a State Department policy requiring the outgoing person to stay on for a week overlap with his/her replacement, but like lots of things at State, that only applies to the little people.

    So who will it be? One rumor is that Obama will nominate Meghan O’Sullivan. Sully, like McGurk, is another Bush administration left over covered in Iraqi blood. She was an assistant to Paul Bremer in the Coalition Provisional Authority, Senior Director for Iraq at the National Security Council and Special Assistant to Bush and Deputy National Security Advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan. Like McGurk, she was deeply involved with all the wonder and goodness that US accrued in nine sad years of occupation in Iraq.

    Let’s collectively hope the rumor isn’t true. While there is certainly some cosmic karmic justice in making all the bright young things that dragged us into the Iraq War clean up their own mess out there, isn’t there anyone Obama can find who might bring some new thinking to the task? Right now we have a white elephant embassy that is too expensive ($6.5 billion a year), too huge (16,000 staff) and too useless, because the Iraqis want no part of us and it is too dangerous for State’s warriors to leave campus and visit nearby Baghdad. At the same time Iraq has devolved into a de facto Malaki dictatorship, with growing ties to Iran at no extra charge.

    Oh– and if anyone has any saucy Meghan O’Sullivan emails to share, please forward them to the usual suspects.



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    McGurk’s Latest Wife Whines: I’m a Victim Here

    June 17, 2012 // 10 Comments »

    Gina Chon, previous mistress of ambassador-to-sleazeland Brett “The Stick” McGurk, for some ridiculous reason (probably because Dancing with the Stars was booked) did an interview with the Washington Post.

    The article states:


    Chon said in her message that the leaked e-mails were promoted to news outlets by a “disgruntled” employee on the eve of McGurk’s confirmation hearings, apparently in an attempt to undermine his nomination. She did not identify the State Department employee.

    I hope she isn’t referring to me, for I am not disgruntled in any way. Quite happy to be here, had a decent career with State until fairly recently, a career that I entered through a very competitive process and maintained over 24 years of up or out promotions– unlike McGurk who has been appointed to all his Iraq jobs.

    OK. But what about those emails Gina?


    She described her relationship with McGurk as “a fairly simple tale of two people who met in Baghdad, fell in love, got engaged and later married.” Their e-mails, she said, “reflected flirtatious banter and nothing more.”

    Of course Chon resigned/got fired for sharing her stories with McGurk ahead of publication, something known as “unethical” in the universe she and Brett don’t live in.

    But really, wow. Lots of people spent a year (or several) in Iraq and managed to stay married. Most of their flirtatious banter isn’t the sophomoric crap her emails reveal, with talk of blue balls and masturbation and sexy time hookups whilst ditching one’s spouse. There are also reports that Ms. Chon cheated on her spouse with a second dude.

    Added the disgruntled Chon:


    The question I continue to have is when will the conversation return to issues?

    Good idea. Let’s have a conversation about the unparalleled success of McGurk skateboarding America through nine failed years of war and occupation in Iraq. Take a look at his crap from 2006-2007, newly discovered blog posts, where he spinelessly defends the Bush policies and predicts happy sunshine for Team America in Iraq.

    Let’s also talk about whether not speaking any Arabic is a good or bad thing for McGurk. Let’s ask what experience he has had managing a $6.5 billion enterprise with 16,000 employees. Let’s ask what job if any he has held other than appointed political hack. Let’s talk about how many Iraqi groups see him as so close to PM Malaki that they initially refused to even work with him. Let’s talk about the little paid-for nooky at Harvard. Let’s talk about whether using US Government email to conduct an extra-marital affair suggests you have the discretion, maturity and personal credibility to be an ambassador. Let’s talk about John McCain’s objections. Let’s talk about Inoufe’s objections.

    Let’s talk about all those issues, and whether they add up to someone who deserves to be an ambassador.

    And as if to make sure the story drags on for another news cycle, Chon also spoke to CNN. Better yet, some apology email Chon sent to her “friends” ended up leaked to CNN by one of them. The embattled spouse told CNN:


    People have jumped to unfair and inaccurate conclusions using our own words against us.

    Oh, the old “using our own words” defense. We call that taking responsibility for what you say and write. And this woman worked for a major newspaper?

    Bottom line: If you did it yourself, you can’t claim yourself as the victim. The issue is not the leaking of the emails, it is the content of the emails and the fact that McGurk and the State Department tried to hide them from the Senate and the American People. I’m sorry it took a sex scandal to rouse the Senate from its nap to pay attention to this nominee, but it needs to pay attention to this nominee.

    Hang on Gina, your 15 minutes are about to end, and the reality TV offer can’t be far behind. Is that Bristol Palin on line one already?




    Bonus: with the Arab press all over this story (see here and here as examples) how effective could McGurk hope to be as ambassador anyway?



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    You Stay Classy McGurk

    June 15, 2012 // 7 Comments »

    In addition to sleazy emails trading sex for access (a two way deal between disgraced Brett “The Stick” McGurk and disgraced Wall Street Journal “journalist” Gina Chon), we add another pack of stained sheets to the pile.

    Sex on the Roof

    I hope no one missed commenter “William” who added to this blog:


    Yes, it is true, he had sex on the roof. Everyone knew it. I was there, not on the roof, but afterwards when everyone was talking about it and he was walking around like cool man on campus.

    He does lack key leadership jobs and it appears his expierience has been handed to him, but he found these positions because people like him and he does a good job. I will give him that – he is likable and does good work. He also has a talent for attracting the ladies.



    Sex at The Yard

    Meanwhile in sleaze land, the Washington Post reports that McGurk invited his then-mistress Chon to be a guest lecturer at a Harvard course he taught in 2009. Harvard students attending the class had no idea that their teacher was romantically involved with Chon, who spoke to them about her experience reporting getting inside info by sleeping with her sources in Iraq, according to a student who attended.

    (Sigh) Needless to say, both the Stickman and Chon were married to others when they arranged to have Harvard pay for Chon to spend some quality time with Brett on the university’s dime. Another classy move McGurk!

    No one at State was working on a warm Friday afternoon to comment on whether McGurk’s actions constitute the same “notorisouly disgraceful conduct” it beats off on its own employees for doing.




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    Senate GOP Calls on Obama to Pull McGurk (Nomination)

    June 13, 2012 // 1 Comment »



    Six Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today called on President Obama to withdraw his nominee for US ambassador to Iraq, Brett “The Stick” McGurk.

    Beavis and Butthead Do “Foreign Affairs”

    The Wall Street Journal has already shown it has more respect and dignity than the White House, firing/allowing to resign Gina Chon, the female half of the McGurk scandel.

    The Army has also shown it has more respect and dignity than the White House, finding a Colonel who had an extra-marital affair guilty Wednesday of two charges of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman, neither status McGurk seems destined for. The Army stated that the Colonel’s conduct “disgraced officers and the Army.” The State Department continues to claim McGurk is uniquely qualified for the job.

    The State Department, at least with its low-level staff, has also shown it has more respect and dignity than the White House, pursuing discipline charges against Foreign Service personnel who had extra-marital affairs leading to “notoriously disgraceful conduct.”

    Only the White House stands alone declaring that no one else in the entire US government, or the entire United States for that matter, is qualified to serve as ambassador to Iraq but a guy who has done nothing in is 38 years of life but be politically appointed to Iraq jobs (none earned, elected or competitively chosen, just appointed mind you), making a selfish hash out of even that by cheating on his wife while tossing nuggets to a now-disgraced reporter.

    Senate Foreign Relations Committee is due to vote on McGurk’s nomination on June 19. If they pass him, his nomination goes to the full Senate for a vote sometime before hell freezes over.

    Meanwhile (naughty boy voice on) White House straight man Jay Carney said “We believe that the United States will be greatly served by Mr. McGurk’s experience in Iraq, which is substantial.” Heh Heh, he said he had “substantial experience.” And we all know what that means, eh Butthead?



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    Something Stinks at Foggy Bottom

    June 11, 2012 // 4 Comments »

    For those lucky enough to live outside of DC, the Department of State is located in an area of town called Foggy Bottom; that’s even the name of the subway station nearest the building. Back in the 18th century the area was literally a fetid swamp, hence the name.

    It appears now that the swamp gases are rising through the concrete, because something in connection with the McGurk ambassador to Iraq nomination stinks.

    State claims that McGurk is “uniquely qualified” for the job, and that he was the subject of “rigorous vetting.” Yet now-authenticated, salacious emails, which call into question his judgment, maturity, discretion and ethics popped up online, straight out of State’s own archives and blew his once certain Senate approval on to a back burner, at best.

    As part of any political vetting process, especially in the age of the web, the candidate is asked at some point “Is there anything else? Anything out there that might come up we need to know about? Any skeletons in the closet, old affairs, angry ex’, anything?” Because today, if it is out there, it will surface.

    And one of three things happened.

    McGurk either lied to State and did not tell them about his affair, his trading info for sex, his lack of judgment (bad), or

    McGurk with his own ethical compass did not think he did anything wrong and did not tell State (maybe worse), or

    McGurk did tell State the whole story and State covered it up, hoping to mislead the Senate into confirming McGurk (very bad)


    Anybody got a fourth possible scenario? I don’t.

    We are left with the choices of a man either without ethics and shame, or one willing to lie to get ahead, or an institution at State so set on pleasing its political bosses in the White House that it is willing to deceive the Senate and help place an unqualified man in one of its most important posts.

    There are too many well-qualified, honest people out there who could be ambassador to Iraq for the Senate to waste any more time on McGurk. He should now announce his need to spend time with his new wife, and State should come clean on its role in covering up this stench.

    State should abandon its investigation into the leak of the emails and instead investigate its own vetting process.

    Let’s try something new here: put the interests of America in front of self-interest. It will be a welcome change for the State Department.



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    State Department: McGurk “Uniquely Qualified” to be Ambassador

    June 9, 2012 // 8 Comments »

    In the face of a ferocious head wind of criticism against Ambassador-to-Iraq wanna be Brett McGurk, State’s official comment is that he is “uniquely qualified” to serve as the top American diplomat in Iraq and urged the Senate to confirm him quickly.

    The Senate did not respond with alacrity. Several Republican senators, including Sen. John McCain, have criticized McGurk for his failure to negotiate a residual US force in Iraq after combat troops left in December 2011, an action that is directly responsible for several billion dollars in extra security costs for the State Department. A spokesman for Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., says that there are “concerning issues” about McGurk’s nomination and that the senator will not meet with him until those have been addressed. Inhofe spokesman Jared Young said the senator, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has not decided whether to place a formal hold on the nomination — which could kill it — but is withholding judgment until the matter is “cleared up.”

    We suggest whoever has to “clean up” this mess wear a condom and wash their hands thoroughly afterwards.

    Why Not

    Reasons not to confirm McGurk cover the spectrum:

    He used official government email to hook up with a journalist in Iraq while married to someone else. Poor judgment, lack of maturity and discretion, reckless personal life, “notoriously disgraceful conduct” that State disciplines its own staff for.

    In those same emails (which State essentially confirmed as authentic, stating “they are out there for everyone to see” and that the reporter “subsequently became his wife.”) McGurk dangles information for nooky to his reporter squeeze. McGurk saw no ethical issues in that deal, and saw no ethical issues in his now wife having sex with one of her journalistic sources. Why won’t he apply the same standards to his work as ambassador?

    McGurk has held no job since graduation except to work on Iraq. He has been handmaiden to all the wonder, glory and success that has been the US in Iraq.

    McGurk has never run an embassy, or anything else other than his own mouth, and is seeking to be in charge of the world’s largest and most expensive embassy as his training assignment. That embassy costs us $6.5 billion a year and employs over 16,000 people. This is not a place for a beginner, even with help.

    Iraq is in political upheaval at present, with many elements gathering against current Prime Minister Malaki. McGurk is very, very close to Malaki and unlikely to be seen as a neutral, honest broker inside Iraq.

    McGurk lied to his wife, messed around with a reporter, wrote her emails about his “blue balls” and masturbation in language that would be unimpressive from a high school kid. He is rumored to be in a sex tape, with another woman, a State Department employee now in Qatar we’re told. McGurk obviously has enemies inside State, with no assurance that the leaks are over with. Exactly what credibility will he have with his staff? How about his female staff?

    McGurk speaks no Arabic and, based on his meandering answers in his confirmation hearing, can’t memorize facts and figures.

    McGurk’s presence as ambassador would send a clear, sad message to all State Department employees that double standards of behavior apply, and that if you’re senior enough you can get away with things underlings get fired for.

    Is America sending the right message to Iraq and the world when this is the best we can come up with for an ambassador’s job?


    Bonus: Neither State nor McGurk has explained why it took a leak and then the efforts of some dedicated bloggers to bring out this information from State’s own archives? Why did State hide this until it was forced to admit it? What else is being withheld, and why does State withhold information from the Senate?

    In my own case, State’s Diplomatic Security combed through my emails back years looking for dirt. Did they not look into McGurk’s? If not, why not? If so, why did they cover this up?

    State, for its part, amazingly said “McGurk had been subject to rigorous vetting before being nominated for the job.” Hah hah, I guess that vetting should have been just a teensy, tiny bit more robust, eh? How can they say such things with a straight face?

    Bonus Bonus: Marrying the woman you used to cheat on your wife does not erase the fact that you lied, broke your vows and cheated on your wife.


    Seriously.

    Iraq is a messy, complex place. 4484 Americans died there, over a hundred thousands Iraqis lost their lives. The Embassy in Iraq costs the US taxpayers between $6.5 and $4 billion a year, and has over 16,000 people working for it. This is not the place for an amateur, or for someone who can’t keep his zipper up and his mind on the job.

    We need someone serious, mature and committed in this tough job, and we’re being fed Bluto from the Delta House. Zero point zero.

    There are thousands of men and women in and out of government who speak Arabic, will present themselves as neutral brokers in Iraq and who can bring a fresh perspective to US policy there. Many of them have extensive executive experience, either running embassies themselves or in heading corporate ventures. None of them have their squishy sleezy emails leaked online by people who think they are unqualified enough to risk their careers to stop them, and the majority of them don’t sleep around on their spouses. Most of them are mature enough to not use government email to talk about whacking off.

    And if all that isn’t enough, who says the leaks are over with, and that there isn’t more to come to embarrass us all again, now or when McGurk is in Baghdad?

    Out of all those people, why why why is the State Department convinced only McGurk is qualified for this job?




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    Inhofe won’t meet with McGurk

    June 8, 2012 // 6 Comments »

    USA Today reports on the latest twists and turns in the McGurk saga:

    An aide to Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla, the second-ranking GOP member on the Senate Armed Services committee, said that the senator was concerned about the sexytime e-mails and a separate unsubstantiated allegation of inappropriate behavior by McGurk in Baghdad. The senator has decided to put off considering McGurk’s nomination and canceled a meeting with the nominee after learning of the e-mails. “Until those issues are cleared up, he will not meet with Mr. McGurk,” said an Inhofe spokesman.

    The Washington Free Beacon reports “One source on Capitol Hill with knowledge of the nomination confirmed that the State Department had acknowledged the emails came from their system.”

    As for Ms. Chon, the object of McGurk’s email affections, the Wall Street Journal says that “Ms. Chon, currently a reporter in Money & Investing, asked for a formal leave of absence from The Wall Street Journal in March when it appeared her then-fiancé might be nominated as ambassador to Iraq. The request was granted at the time, and the leave is scheduled to begin later this summer.” That seems to confirm that McGurk divorced his wife, to whom he was married whilst romancing Chon, and is now married to Chon.

    The Journal apparently did not find reason to comment on whether it condoned its reporters being romantically involved with their sources, even as it back-backhandedly confirmed that its reporter was romantically involved with her source.

    Senator McCain has previously taken issue with McGurk, because of failed negotiations with the Iraqis last year to keep residual US forces in the country beyond 2011. McGurk led those negotiations. McCain and others had also questioned whether McGurk, who unlike his post-Saddam era predecessors has never held a previous ambassadorship, was ready for the job of running the world’s largest embassy.

    And just to sweeten the deal, the Iraqi National Accord, the most prominent opposition bloc in Iraq’s parliament, has earlier written to Congress to oppose his nomination and say he was too close to Shiite politicians. The group has since backed off a notch, saying they’ll work with whoever the US sends to Baghdad ’cause they kind of have to, but it does set the wrong tone.


    Readers of my book, We Meant Well, will remember an incident where an innocent romantic email from a male State Department contractor to a female soldier kicked off a major incident that ended up with the contractor being swiftly fired for misuse of the official email system for personal use. If McGurk is allowed to end up as ambassador, that would be only the latest in a long series of double standards of conduct at the State Department.

    The rule at Foggy Bottom is the higher the rank, the less the spank when it comes to naughtiness. That is not to imply, of course, that McGurk is into bondage and discipline play…



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    McGurk’s Arabian Nights

    // 4 Comments »

    (The following article appeared on the Washington Free Beacon, with emphasis added.

    Also, an anonymous source has told me that the reported McGurk sex tape, which shows a sex act on the roof of the Republican Palace, included a female Foreign Service Officer kneeling, not Ms. Chon (photo, left). The female FSO in question is serving outside of Iraq, though still in the Middle East. At the time of the alleged tape, and the emails, McGurk was married to a non-State Department woman named Caroline Wong. Though the Free Beacon article states McGurk is now married to Chon, Wong’s Facebook page still lists her as a McGurk.

    Meanwhile, Gawker says that McGurk wasn’t Ms. Chon’s only conquest during her days in Iraq. She was also seen squiring then-ABC News correspondent Terry McCarthy around Baghdad.

    Of course State has likely already started an investigation– into the leaks, not its employees’ conduct.

    Busy world. When I served in Iraq, we tended to spend a lot of time at the gym. Dunno how these others got any work done.)

    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.

    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.

    Neither Chon nor the State Department responded to request for comment.

    One source on Capitol Hill with knowledge of the nomination confirmed that the State Department had acknowledged the emails came from their system.


    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.

    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.

    “Cleaning out my emails and this is my all time favorite—from my first message to you through our Chinese dinner to the blue ball banter and then my coming over to hook up with you for the first time on June 23, [2008]—a night the world should celebrate!” McGurk wrote to Chon on December 13, 2008. “I am so fucking smooth!”

    The reporter-source relationship began in earnest on June 20, 2008, after the pair met at a dinner party and traded a set of flirty emails.

    “Thanks again for the dinner conversation,” McGurk wrote to Chon. “I’ll tell you what I know, if you can teach me something about cars.”

    Chon responded in kind, attempting to lure McGurk away from his State Department handlers for a one-on-one schmooze session.

    “It would be good to get together on a more casual basis without public affairs people, if you know what I mean,” wrote Chon.

    From that point, Chon and McGurk engaged in an increasingly erotic back-and-forth in which Chon attempts to extract insider information and McGurk pontificates about his “blue balls,” a term that refers to sexual frustration.

    “If treated to many glasses of wine—you could be the chosen vultures,” McGurk says to Chon before offering her advice on a story. “On local elections—you should speak with [Iraqi politician] Sami al-Ankari.”

    “I’ll see what I can pull off regarding the wine,” Chon responds, complaining about Iraq’s strict regulation of alcohol, which is generally prohibited under Islamic law.

    “I can insert a rider into the [Status of Forces Agreement] exempting prosecution of our consumption of alcohol at the Rasheed [hotel] on Sunday night,” McGurk responds.

    It is unclear if his offer to alter official arrangements between the U.S. and Iraq for personal gain was a joke.

    One day later, McGurk again offers to flex his political muscle so that the duo can enjoy their date.

    “I’m in a negotiation now and will float the idea of a separate annex on Japanese sushi exports,” he says, referring to the security parleys he spearheaded with Iraqi leaders.

    McGurk—who is rumored to be the senior U.S. official caught on video receiving fellatio on the rooftop of Saddam Hussein’s presidential palace—offers to throw his weight around in order to get Chon into a high level powwow with U.S. and Iraqi political bigwigs.

    “Turns out I totally have rank to get you in here, but it would not be fair for a master negotiating tactician like me—to intimidate and inexperience and innocent negotiator like you,” McGurk writes. “My strategy is to break you down (day by day) until Friday when I will have achieved maximum leverage. Plan on dinner tomorrow around 8.”

    Chon virtually bats her eyelashes in response.

    “If you are a master tactician, why would you tell me each aspect of your strategy? Doesn’t seem very smart to me, but I’m just innocent and inexperienced, at least on some things,” she writes.

    At another point, McGurk seems to realize that it may not be wise to exchange such communications via his official State Department email address.

    “Our consultations are top secret and deniable, remember?” he writes on June 23, 2008. “Hey, can you text message on your [Blackberry]? … It’s a better way to engage in sensitive deliberations like ours.”

    McGurk also appears to tease Chon with a private dinner alongside top Iraqi politician Massoud Barzani.

    “On tonight, let me see what I can do,” McGurk writes. “I had a very good day with the Iraqis—the best yet. Can’t tell you about it of course.”

    “Stop being such a tease!” Chon fired back. “This is like a journalist’s version of blue balls and it’s really not fair.”

    “Well it’s only fair,” McGurk retorts, “since I had a very real case of blue balls last night! I think they’re still blue.”

    Chon seemingly offers to relieve the tension.

    “Poor baby,” she writes. “Well, you can come by here afterwards.”

    “They really hurt and won’t stop pouting,” McGurk then gripes. “I may go see the nurse.”

    “Don’t worry—I’ll provide plenty of warning before coming by. I need to figure out how to lose my goon squad,” he adds, apparently referring to his security detail. “They tend to mar my most secret and clandestine missions.”

    Later in the exchange, McGurk indicates that he masturbated in order to relieve his sexual frustration.

    “I did a nice self-healing exercise before dinner, btw; so the blueness has receded.”

    The following morning, Chon indicates that the two consummated their courtship.

    “Hope you weren’t hurting too much today,” she writes. “I think I need to take a nap, right after I eat a whopper and onion rings.”

    The eyebrow-raising exchanges raise questions about McGurk’s judgment and could come up during his Senate confirmation process.

    Some lawmakers, in fact, have already expressed their reservations about McGurk. They object to, among other things, his failure to achieve a follow-up security agreement in 2011.

    “I will have very significant questions about his qualifications and his positions on the issues. … He’s not my choice,” Senate Armed Services Committee ranking Republican John McCain (R., Ariz.) told Foreign Policy magazine’s Josh Rogin in March.

    McGurk expressed grave concerns over the unstable political situation in Iraq during his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday.

    McGurk could not be reached for comment.



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