A coalition of Republican foreign policy leaders in Congress is demanding that senior Biden administration officials appear on Capitol Hill to be questioned about the bungled U.S. exit from Afghanistan, which cost American lives and left hundreds of Americans stranded in the Taliban-controlled country.
Rep. Michael McCaul (Texas), the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and 22 colleagues wrote on Monday to the State Department, asking that 34 senior officials appear before the committee for transcribed interviews about exactly what happened in the days leading up to the U.S. withdrawal and evacuation effort that left 13 Americans dead and hundreds stranded behind Taliban lines.
More than two months since the U.S. withdrawal, the Biden administration has not provided lawmakers with a litany of internal documents and communications that provide a behind-the-scenes account of what occurred. Briefings by State Department officials, the lawmakers say, "have been cursory exercises that mystify as much as they illuminate, with relevant actors often declining to answer questions directly."
The letter is the latest attempt by Republicans to investigate the withdrawal from Afghanistan and force the Biden administration to come clean about what took place. Americans remain stranded in the country, with officials repeatedly understating the number of U.S. citizens still in need of help. The Biden administration has not responded to an Aug. 20 letter from McCaul that demanded documents and accountability for the ongoing situation in Afghanistan.
Among the 34 senior Biden administration officials from whom the lawmakers want to hear is Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Brian McKeon, who was responsible for dismantling a crisis response bureau that could have helped safely expedite American evacuation efforts.
The lawmakers want to know why the Biden administration lied for nearly two months about the number of Americans stranded in Afghanistan, which senior officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, put at "around 100" even as internal State Department estimates were much higher. They also want to know what agreements have been put in place with the Taliban since the United States handed back control of the country to the terror group. The information request also includes information about the administration's "decision to destroy sensitive documents like visa applications and passports, and calling on DoD to move arms stored at the embassy," according to the letter.
"Your refusal to provide the requested documents and interviews would not only prevent the Committee from fully investigating the matters outlined above but also impede Congress' ability to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities to protect our national security," the lawmakers write.