Members of Congress finally received an opportunity to review a secretive State Department "dissent cable" from July 2021 that reportedly warned of the dire situation in Afghanistan ahead of President Joe Biden's chaotic withdrawal of U.S. forces from that nation a month later.
According to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the document is "embarrassing" for the Biden White House in that it completely contradicts the administration's narrative at the time that nobody could have predicted the chaos that would ensue, Fox News reported.
Recall that in August 2021, the Taliban launched a sweeping offensive that retook control of Afghanistan, including the capital of Kabul, in a matter of weeks and days as the Afghan National Army quickly folded while U.S. forces hastily evacuated amid deadly suicide bombings and attacks, leaving behind hundreds, if not thousands, of American citizens and allies to suffer under the Taliban's repressive and vindictive regime.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX) had repeatedly demanded an opportunity to read the State Department's "dissent cable" and issued multiple subpoenas to that effect that were ignored or denied -- that is, until McCaul threatened to hold Secretary of State Antony Blinken in contempt of Congress for his non-compliance.
In a Monday press release, McCaul announced that an agreement had been reached to allow all members of his committee to view both the cable and the Department's response -- an agreement that he said satisfied his subpoena and would result in the withdrawal of the threat of contempt for Blinken.
"This is an unprecedented step forward in our committee’s investigation into the Afghanistan withdrawal," the chairman said in a statement. "For the first time in history, the State Department has agreed to allow Congress to view a dissent channel cable. This cable contains first-hand information from Embassy Kabul employees who were on the ground prior to the collapse as well as Secretary Blinken’s response to their concerns. I want to thank Secretary Blinken for negotiating with me in good faith on this."
According to Fox News, the "dissent cable" in question had been sent on July 13, 2021, and was signed by 23 diplomats and staffers in Afghanistan who rather presciently warned that the Taliban would swiftly retake control of the country and urged immediate action to begin evacuating U.S. personnel and Afghan allies -- a warning that was essentially downplayed or ignored by the Biden administration.
Rep. Issa, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, told the outlet, "What we saw was their prediction, with great accuracy, of exactly what was going to happen and what the outcome would be if they did not change their directions. We saw a response from the office of the State Department saying, ‘We hear you, and we agree, basically, we don't take it lightly.’ And then, obviously, we know what they did and didn't do, which was totally insufficient for the warning that was given."
"They redacted the specific names, but we now know that many of them were senior executive surrogates, meaning people that are paid at the highest level in the State Department," the congressman continued. "They knew and understood that there was no way that the Afghan military was going to defend successfully. They did not disagree with that, and as a result, they knew that Kabul would fall within weeks, that the Taliban would do what they have done, which is to continue to kill and persecute individuals, and they allowed it to happen."
Issa went on to say that the document showed "there was no expectation by the State Department that there would be sustainability" of any progress made in the region and that tens of billions of dollars of U.S. equipment and weapons would inevitably be seized by the Taliban, and noted, "Every prediction came through, including the quick collapse of the Afghan army."
The California congressman added that he will now work toward getting the document declassified, and said, "This is classified because it's embarrassing. There’s absolutely no reason the American people shouldn't see it, and I will not rest until they do."
The Washington Examiner reported Monday that the decision by Sec. Blinken to let all members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee view the "dissent cable" followed a recent attempt to allow only Chairman McCaul and ranking member Gregory Meeks (D-NY) to view a redacted version of the document, which McCaul had flatly rejected and insisted that Blinken would still be held in contempt unless all committee members received the same opportunity.
"While I paused efforts to enforce the Committee’s subpoena pending my review of the documents, I did so with the express stipulations that the subpoena remains in full force and effect, and that acceptance of this accommodation did not waive any of the Committee’s rights," McCaul said at that time. "Should the Department continue to refuse to provide the entire Committee the same opportunity Ranking Member Meeks and I had to review these documents, I will need to revisit my current position."
He added that reading the document "has significantly enhanced my understanding of the deteriorating conditions on the ground in Afghanistan and the direness of the dissenting officials’ warnings to the Department’s leadership," as well as that it "makes clear the remarkable extent to which the dissenters accurately predicted the situation on the ground and the Department’s course of action in Afghanistan, and that the Department’s actions taken in response were grossly inadequate."