Brett McGurk serves as Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL at the U.S. Department of State. His previous assignment was Deputy Special Presidential Envoy from September 2014 until November 2015. He also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs from August 2013 until his current appointment. In the Obama administration McGurk has served as a Senior Advisor in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs with a focus on Iraq and other regional initiatives, as a special advisor to the National Security Staff, and as Senior Advisor to Ambassadors Ryan Crocker, Christopher Hill, and James Jeffrey in Baghdad. In these capacities McGurk participated in President Obama’s 2009 review of Iraq policy and helped manage the transition from military to civilian lead following the U.S. military drawdown. During the Bush administration McGurk served as Director for Iraq and then as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2008 McGurk served as a lead negotiator and coordinator during bilateral talks with the Iraqi Government on both a long-term Strategic Framework Agreement and a Security Agreement to govern the temporary presence of U.S. forces and the normalization of bilateral relations between Iraq and the United States. For these assignments he received the State Department's Distinguished Honor and Superior Honor Awards. He was also one of the chief architects with President Bush of the strategy known as “the Surge,” which contributed to a reduction of violence in Iraq and set the conditions for the responsible withdrawal of U.S. forces. McGurk had earlier served as a legal advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority and then the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad under Ambassador John Negroponte.
McGurk is a graduate of Columbia University School of Law, where he served as Senior Editor of the Columbia Law Review. After law school, he served as a law clerk to the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist on the Supreme Court of the United States, Judge Dennis Jacobs on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, and Judge Gerard E. Lynch, on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. He holds a B.A. in political science with honors, Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Connecticut. Follow McGurk on Twitter @brett_mcgurk.