House Chair Threatens State Department with Subpoena over Afghanistan Docs

March 21, 2023


Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Michael McCaul (R-TX) warned the State Department it would face a subpoena if it failed to deliver documents regarding the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

House Republicans have made repeated requests for the documents. In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken that was sent on Monday, McCaul set a deadline of Wednesday evening for the State Department to provide at least three requested documents.

“From its broader January 12 request, the Committee identified on January 30 three highly specific immediate priority items that are well-known to the Department,” McCaul wrote in the letter.

The deadline for the documents comes just ahead of Blinken’s expected appearance on Thursday before the Foreign Affairs Committee to discuss President Biden’s budget request for 2024.

The committee held its first hearing earlier this month on the botched August 2021 pullout after 20 years of war. Thirteen U.S. service members were killed and 20 others were wounded when a member of the terrorist organization ISIS-K detonated a suicide bomb near Kabul airport amid the evacuation. More than 150 Afghan civilians were also killed.

In a 115-page interim report last fall, McCaul blamed the Biden Administration for the chaos at the airport, pointing to a failure to properly plan for possible contingencies ahead of the withdrawal. The Administration has since conceded that it underestimated how quickly Afghanistan’s military would fall apart.

In 2020, Trump Administration had agreed to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan by May 2021. Former President Trump had said in 2020, “Now it’s time for somebody else to do that work.”

However, on April 14, 2021 President Biden announced that it was “time to end the forever war,” declaring that all troops will be removed from Afghanistan by September 11 of that year.

In a speech explaining his decision, Biden said he’d “inherited a diplomatic agreement” between the U.S. and the Taliban. “It is perhaps not what I would have negotiated myself, but it was an agreement made by the United States government, and that means something.” He added that final troop withdrawal would begin on May 1.

The suicide bombing along with the rapid collapse of Afghanistan’s government and military led to a refugee crisis amid the Taliban’s takeover. The U.S. left behind an estimated 78,000 Afghans who worked for the U.S. have applied for special visas, according to a nongovernmental organization (NGO) report by the Association of Wartime Allies.

“Over 18 months after the fall of Kabul, numerous key questions about the withdrawal remain unanswered,” McCaul wrote in his letter to the State Department, addling, “The Committee has an obligation to investigate how these grievous failures occurred and determine what actions, including potential legislation, are necessary to help prevent a similar catastrophe from occurring again in the future.”

The State Department has pointed to a need to carefully review a large volume of highly sensitive documents for its delay. 

“The State Department employs a rigorous process to review documents and ensure that documents containing sensitive information which could harm our national security, jeopardize our international relationships, or put our women and men working around the world in harm’s way, are adequately protected,” the State Department wrote to McCaul, who called that line of reasoning “unacceptable and unreasonable.”

Read more exclusive news from Political IQ.

Related

Newsletter

Get the featured stories in your email and don't miss out on important news.

Previous

Federal Court Of Appeals Rules On Curriculum Case

Next

Federal Court Of Appeals Rules On Curriculum Case