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MacCaul threatens to hold Blinken in contempt over Afghanistan withdrawal Documents

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Fidel Rahmati
Fidel Rahmatihttps://www.khaama.com
Fidai Rahmati is the editor and content writer for Khaama Press. You may follow him at Twitter @FidelRahmati

Michael McCaul, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has renewed his threat to hold Secretary of State Antony Blinken in contempt of Congress if the department persists in withholding subpoenaed documents regarding the U.S.’s exit from Afghanistan in 2021.

In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, McCaul stated, “The State Department’s After-Action Review of the Biden administration’s 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan found significant failures in the department’s response.”

“The law does not afford the State Department blanket authority to hide behind ‘Executive Branch confidentiality interests’ to obstruct Congress’s access to the truth,” McCaul wrote as reported by the media outlets.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee and the State Department have been embroiled in a dispute since January 2023 over crucial documents related to the tumultuous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan in August 2021. These documents are central to the House Republicans’ investigation into what has been termed a “chaotic” exit from the country.

McCaul’s recent letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken detailed a series of exchanges spanning several months regarding the committee’s request for interview notes from the After-Action Review (AAR) team. These notes are said to contain invaluable first-hand accounts of the events surrounding the withdrawal.

Despite previous assurances, the committee was informed last month that a State Department official had reviewed the interview notes, which are now being withheld by the White House and the National Security Council, according to McCaul.

Expressing frustration, the Texas Republican warned of potential contempt proceedings against Blinken if the AAR’s interview notes are not surrendered by March 6. He criticized the Department’s reasoning for withholding the documents, accusing them of prioritizing politics over policy.

This latest confrontation follows earlier attempts by the committee to obtain pertinent information. In July, a subpoena was issued demanding the State Department release documents related to the withdrawal. McCaul expressed disappointment at the limited response, which he deemed insufficient.

Additionally, there was contention over a diplomatic cable related to the withdrawal. Despite initial resistance, the State Department eventually relented after threats of contempt proceedings, allowing committee members access to the dissent channel cable in June.

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