- Egypt rights center raided, 2 Mubaraks acquitted
- New Mexico Supreme Court rules same-sex marriage constitutional
- Blame Bush: 5 years later, that’s still the mantra, pollsters find
- Dutch prostitutes demand same retirement benefits as soccer stars
- John McCain to Harry Reid: I’ll ‘kick the crap’ out of you
- Dogs that talk: Researchers seek $10K for ‘No More Woof’ technology
- 1,000 firefighters called to battle stubborn Big Sur wildfire
- Black Friday brouhaha: Millions of Target shoppers hit by credit card theft
- Britain orders airplane to rescue citizens from violent South Sudan
- Mega Millions winner emerges as Georgia mom, in ‘disbelief’
Obama pick for Iraq envoy withdraws nomination
Question of the Day
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration’s pick to be the next ambassador to Iraq withdrew from consideration Monday as Senate Republicans suggested his confirmation was endangered because of his behavior and judgment while working at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad in 2008.
Brett McGurk’s nomination, which was scheduled for a vote Tuesday by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, became endangered after the release on the Internet of sometimes racy emails he sent to journalist Gina Chon while he was married and was negotiating a security agreement with the Iraqi government during President George W. Bush's administration.
The emails indicated Mr. McGurk had an intimate relationship with Ms. Chon. Mr. McGurk has since married Chon, who resigned from The Wall Street Journal last week after acknowledging that she violated in-house rules by showing Mr. McGurk unpublished stories.
In a letter to President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mr. McGurk said he was removing himself from consideration for the job with a “heavy heart.” He said he was doing so after consulting Ms. 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.”
Mr. McGurk said that Iraq badly needs a U.S. ambassador to succeed outgoing envoy James Jeffrey, but that the furor over the emails was a distraction that would delay the replacement. “The country is in the midst of a political crisis and our mission is undergoing rapid transformation,” he said.
“The most difficult part of this process, however, was watching my wife become a part of it,” he said. “She is the most precious thing in the world to me, and the depiction of our relationship has been both surreal and devastating.”
In a separate letter to friends and supporters, he wrote: “This is one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made.”
When six Republican members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee asked Mr. Obama last week to withdraw Mr. McGurk’s nomination, they cited the emails. They also complained that Mr. McGurk had failed to defend American interests in Iraq during the security agreement negotiations
Some of the emails contain crude sexual references, and the senators said his use of an official State Department email account for the exchanges raised questions. There were also questions about whether Mr. McGurk had given Ms. Chon sensitive information about the negotiations.
“The public release of information detailing unprofessional conduct demonstrates poor judgment and will affect the nominee’s credibility in the country where he has been nominated to serve,” the senators said.
The senators could have scuttled Mr. McGurk’s nomination entirely or held it up for weeks, even months.
The administration — as well as Jeffrey, the current ambassador to Iraq, and his two predecessors in Baghdad — had staunchly defended Mr. McGurk as the right person for the job given his extensive experience in Iraq and knowledge of the situation and political players. It also said he had been thoroughly vetted for the job.
The White House said Monday it appreciated Mr. McGurk’s years of service to the country and was disappointed by his decision to withdraw.
“He has proven himself to be a skilled diplomat willing to take on some of the toughest challenges at the toughest times in a difficult region,” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said. “While we regret to see Brett withdraw his candidacy there is no doubt that he will be called on again to serve the country.”
By Andrew P. Napolitano
Fourth Amendment says Obama is not at liberty to collect metadata
- Homeland Security helps smuggle illegal immigrant children into the U.S.
- Gov't wasted $30 billion on 'pillownauts,' crystal goblets -- buying human urine!
- Duck Dynasty Phil Robertson suspended indefinitely for gay quip
- Bill Gates: The Secret Santa disguised as a 'friendly fellow' on Reddit
- Democrats cite pope in call for minimum wage hike, jobless benefits
- Obamacare 'pajamas boy' gets roundly mocked
- Armed response, not restrictive gun laws, brought swift end to school shooting
- BOLTON: Nero in the White House
- U.S. Army mulls wiping out memory of Robert E. Lee, 'Stonewall' Jackson
- Outrage over Phil Robertson suspension, 'malignant' political correctness
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Crystal Wright is a black conservative woman living in Washington, D.C.
Wall Street news for retail investors who want to know what's going on.
Television commentary, reviews, news and nonstop DVR catch-up by Lisa King Dolloff and friends.
Entertainment News and Reviews from Washington, D.C. and beyond.
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow