Brett H. McGurk

International Affairs Fellow

Brett H. McGurk is an international affairs fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Recently an international affairs fellow in residence, he focused his research on legal and policy issues related to complex international negotiations, as well as current U.S. policy in Iraq and Afghanistan. Brett was also a resident fellow for the fall 2009 semester at Harvard University, where he lectured on the role of the U.S. Supreme Court and the National Security Council since September 11, 2001.

He served on the National Security Council staff of President George W. Bush (2005-2009), first as director for Iraq and then as special assistant to the president and senior director for Iraq and Afghanistan, and President Barack Obama, as a special advisor. During the Obama administration, he also served as a senior advisor to Ambassador Ryan Crocker and then Ambassador Christopher Hill in Baghdad. In 2007 and 2008 he was the lead U.S. negotiator on agreements with the Iraqi government that set the conditions for a withdrawal of U.S. forces and built the foundation for bilateral relations between Iraq and the United States. For this assignment he received the Distinguished Honor Award from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the highest award the Secretary can bestow on a civilian not serving in the
State Department.

He is a former Supreme Court law clerk, clerking for the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist from 2001 to 2002, and in 2004-05 served as an attorney with the Coalition Provisional Authority and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, focusing on issues of constitutional reform, elections, and government formation.

Brett holds a BA from the University of Connecticut and a JD from Columbia University, where he served as a senior editor of the Columbia Law Review.

Publications