Under Threat of Contempt, Biden Admin Lets Republicans See Document Predicting Afghan Collapse

Secretary of State Antony Blinken / Getty Images
June 6, 2023

WASHINGTON (Reuters)—Members of a U.S. House of Representatives committee will be able to view a classified cable related to the August 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan, the committee said on Monday, ending a threat to file contempt charges against Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Republican representative Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, secured an agreement with Blinken that would let every member of the panel view the cable and the department response to it, the committee said. The panel has 51 members.

The committee said McCaul agreed that would be a satisfactory accommodation to the subpoena he sent Blinken earlier this year, and would take a possible contempt charge off the table.

"For the first time in history, the State Department has agreed to allow Congress to view a dissent channel cable," McCaul said in a statement.

A State Department spokesperson said the department continues to believe its accommodations had been sufficient. They include letting McCaul and Representative Gregory Meeks, the panel's top Democrat, view the cable and providing a classified briefing and summary.

But it said the department would let additional committee members see it. "To bring this matter to resolution, we will permit additional Members of the Committee to view the cable at the State Department," the spokesperson said in a statement.

McCaul is investigating the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Republicans, and some Democrats, say there has never been a full accounting of the chaotic operation, in which 13 U.S. service members were killed at Kabul's airport.

McCaul has for months been seeking the "dissent channel" cable sent in July 2021 that a Wall Street Journal article in August that year said warned top officials of the potential collapse of Kabul soon after the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

The channel allows State Department officials to air concerns to supervisors.


(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

Published under: Afghanistan