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.
Chon did not respond to request for comment. The State Department had no 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, —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 fire 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.