Officially In: Brett H. McGurk, from Senior Advisor to Iraq Ambassadorship

On March 26, 2012, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Brett H. McGurk as the next Ambassador to the Republic of Iraq. The WH released the following brief bio:

Brett H. McGurk is currently senior advisor to the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq.  Previously, he served as a senior advisor to Ambassadors Ryan Crocker and Christopher Hill in Baghdad.  From 2005 to 2009, Mr. McGurk served on the National Security Council, initially as Director for Iraq and later as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Iraq and Afghanistan.  Prior to 2005, he was a legal advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.  He also worked as an International Affairs Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a Fellow at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics.  From 2001 to 2002, he served as a law clerk for Chief Justice William Rehnquist of the Supreme Court of the United States.  Previously, Mr. McGurk was a law clerk for Judge Dennis Jacobs of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and for Judge Gerard Lynch of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

He received a B.A. from the University of Connecticut and a J.D. from Columbia University.

We have previously posted about Mr. McGurk here after Laura Rozen of The Envoy got the scoop of this appointment in early March.  Here is a brief clip of Mr. McGurk and Ambassador Crocker with Christiane Amanpour via

According to NYT, Mr. McGurk married the former Caroline Wong, an advertising account manager in New York in 2006.  The wedding announcement includes the following personal details:

Mr. McGurk, 32, was a legal adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq beginning in 2004 and later held the same post at the United States Embassy in Baghdad. In 2001 and 2002, he was a law clerk to the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. Mr. McGurk graduated from the University of Connecticut and Columbia Law School.

He is the son of Carol Ann Capobianco Cogan and the stepson of Jeremy Cogan of West Hartford, Conn. The bridegroom’s mother teaches art at the Aiken Elementary School, and his stepfather is a social studies teacher at Hall High School, both in West Hartford. The bridegroom is also the son of Barry McGurk of Hartford, who retired as an adjunct professor of English at the University of Hartford.

If confirmed, Mr. McGurk would succeed career diplomat, James Jeffrey who was appointed Ambassador to Baghdad in 2010. He will only be the second political ambassador ever appointed to Iraq (the first was Zalmay Khalilzad in 2005).

At 38, he will also hold the record as the youngest chief of mission ever appointed to the US Embassy in Iraq, which just happens to be the largest embassy in the world undergoing significant challenges.  Despite senior advisorships to Ambassadors Crocker, Hill and Jeffrey, Mr. McGurk has never managed an embassy, especially one with thousands of staff.  We are a tad anxious about this appointment for obvious reasons … but we’ll look forward to his SFRC hearing.

Domani Spero


Related item:
President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts | March 26. 2012
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2 responses

  1. Let’s be blunt. This is an absurd nomination and another sign of how the current administration is walking away from Iraq and a meaningful US role there.