Ever since Joe Biden’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, which engendered the deaths of 13 US service members, the abandonment of as much as $90 billion in military equipment,
the compromise of sensitive national security data and technology, and the deaths of thousands of US allies, Republicans in Congress have been asking for answers and explanations from a recalcitrant Biden White House and State Department.
A month ago, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken demanding the department comply with unfulfilled document requests surrounding the committee’s investigation into the Afghanistan withdrawal by Thursday, June 15th or face a subpoena.
According to Chairman McCaul, the Biden State Department has failed to produce two of the three documents the Committee requested – the investigation files associated with the After-Action Report and the roughly sixty-page section of U.S. Embassy Kabul Emergency Action Plans (EAPs) on evacuation planning that were completely redacted in a previous production – despite repeated requests dating back to January 2023. The committee is also asking for the formal request for a non-combatant evacuation order (NEO) from the State Department to the Defense Department.
The full text of Chairman McCaul’s letter to Secretary Blinken can be found here.
Yesterday, Chairman McCaul announced he’d had enough of Blinken’s delays and obfuscation: “I have repeatedly asked for documents from the Biden administration’s chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal. The State Department’s continued refusal to produce files relating to the After-Action Review is another blatant attempt to hide the Biden administration’s culpability in the chaotic and deadly evacuation from Afghanistan. I have no choice but to issue a subpoena.”
According to the House Foreign Affairs Committee staff, “Chairman Michael McCaul has signed a subpoena that was delivered to Secretary of State Antony Blinken this morning for the ‘Afghanistan AAR files,’ the collection of underlying documents used to produce the State Department’s After-Action Review (AAR).”
“While the department has produced two of the three items requested by Chairman McCaul on June 8, it has repeatedly failed to produce the Afghanistan AAR files by the committee’s deadlines in the face of McCaul’s warning that continued noncompliance would result in the initiation of compulsory process. Despite repeated requests dating back to January 2023, the department has refused to produce the Afghanistan AAR files to the committee, impeding its efforts to obtain transparency and accountability for the American people.”
“For these reasons, the committee has been forced, by the department’s obstruction, to issue a subpoena. The files must be produced by 10:00 am ET on Tuesday, July 25.”
Chairman McCaul’s subpoena for the After Action Review and other documents are just the latest round in an ongoing battle between a surprisingly aggressive Chairman McCaul and Biden’s politically tainted State Department.
Earlier this year Chairman McCaul had another battle over a confidential “dissent cable” written by nearly two dozen U.S. diplomats in July 2021, which disclosed the precarious state of the US backed Afghan government.
The cable in question, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, was sent through the specialized “dissent channel” to the secretary of state’s office, outlined fears among its 23 co-signers that the Afghan government was on the verge of collapse and the administration was not adequately prepared to manage a complete withdrawal of U.S. and allied forces from the country. The cable was sent on July 13, 2021, according to two officials familiar with the matter, about a month before the Afghan government collapsed and the Taliban took control of the country. At the time the cable was sent, Biden and other top administration officials were insisting the Afghan government would not collapse and continued to carry out the U.S. withdrawal.
The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan led to the Taliban takeover of the country and presaged a chaotic mass evacuation and terrorist attack that killed 13 U.S. service members at the Kabul airport. As Robbie Gramer observed in an article for Foreign Policy, tens of thousands of Afghans (and their families) who aided the U.S. war efforts were left behind, despite promises of assistance from the United States, with many mired in limbo in a backlogged U.S. visa program while exposing them to imprisonment by the Taliban or hunted by Taliban death squads.
We applaud Chairman McCaul’s vigor in pursuit of answers from Biden and Blinken on how they came to decide on such a chaotic and poorly planned course of action. The Capitol Switchboard is (202-224-3121), call today and tell Chairman Mike McCaul you support his effort to hold Joe Biden and Anthony Blinken accountable for the debacle in Kabul.
Rep. Michael McCaul
abandoned military equipment
terrorist attack 13 dead
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken
U.S. Embassy Kabul Emergency Action Plans (EAPs)
After Action Report
non-combatant evacuation order (NEO)
State Department’s After-Action Review (AAR)
dissent channel cable