Wall Street Journal Iraq Reporter with Romantic Link to Ambassadorial Nominee Will Take Leave of Absence

The Wall Street Journal reporter whose amorous 2008 emails with a senior Bush official in Iraq appear to have been leaked on Flickr and Cryptome earlier this week is scheduled to take a leave of absence from the paper later this summer, a spokeswoman from the paper told The Observer.

“Gina Chon, currently a reporter in Money & Investing, asked for a formal leave of absence from The Wall Street Journal in March when it appeared her then-fiancé [Brett McGurk] might be nominated as ambassador to Iraq,” she wrote. “The request was granted at the time, and the leave is scheduled to begin later this summer.”

As for the leaked emails, the spokeswoman said the company is “looking into the matter.”

The alleged epistles date back to 2008, when the pair were stationed in Baghdad, she as the Journal’s Iraq correspondent, he as the National Security Council’s Iraq director. It sounds like a Hollywood-ready “journalist weaves romantic web around source” story, but the small collection of emails describes a frustrating war zone affair plagued by off the record dinners, pesky housemates and omnipresent security goons. (They are now married.)

“Had a very good day with the Iraqis–the best yet,” goes one dispatch attributed to Mr. McGurk’s State Department e-mail address. “Can’t tell you about it of course.”

“Stop being such a tease!” one from Ms. Chon’s Journal address replies. “This is like a journalist’s version of blue balls and it’s really not fair.”

But the blue balls were not just figurative.

“Well it’s only fair since I had a very real case of blue balls last night!”

“Poor baby. Well you can come by here afterwards but warning you that my house mates are around, too, so they will probably want to hang out.”

“They really hurt and won’t stop pouting. I may go see the nurse.”

“Depending on how you behave we’ll see about the nurse.”

And so on. The rest are available here.

The Washington Free Beacon thinks the correspondence may endanger Mr. McGurk’s nomination to be the next ambassador to Iraq (his Senate confirmation hearing was Wednesday, which would explain the timing of a leak) because it reveals that he “dangled unprecedented access and information before Ms. Chon in return for a series of increasingly intimate sexual encounters.” Republican Senator James Inhofe has said he will not meet with Mr. McGurk until these “issues are cleared up,” according to USA Today. Gawker concluded that the important thing is that “our foreign policy is being managed by sober, serious, well-intentioned professionals” and “covered by same.”

Indeed, the emails describe Ms. Chon begging for unprecedented favors, like to be smuggled into a party at then-Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih’s house via Mr. McGurk’s briefcase and to use Mr. McGurk’s connections to get sushi imported for the press corps. Which leaves us pitying the sanctimonious State department geek who leaked the e-mails. He wouldn’t know a flirtatious joke if it hit him in the face.