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Austin, TX – Last week, House Foreign Affairs Lead Republican Michael McCaul sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken requesting the preservation of all documents related to the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan. Additionally, McCaul renewed his requests for several batches of documents – some dating back over a year – that have yet to be provided, along with the release of unclassified statements the Biden administration seems determined to hide.

“I am writing to formally request the preservation of documents and to renew prior requests for information regarding last year’s disastrous Afghanistan evacuation – some stretching back more than a year – for which we have not received satisfactory responses,” McCaul wrote. “Access to this information is critical to the Constitutional legislative and oversight responsibilities of Congress, and it is unacceptable for such requests to be ignored or given the attention they deserve.”

The full text of the letter, as well as previous requests can be found here.  The most recent letter is directly below.

 

October 14, 2022

The Honorable Antony Blinken
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

 

Dear Mr. Secretary:

I am writing to formally request the preservation of documents and to renew prior requests for information regarding last year’s disastrous Afghanistan evacuation – some stretching back more than a year – for which we have not received satisfactory responses. Access to this information is critical to the Constitutional legislative and oversight responsibilities of Congress, and it is unacceptable for such requests to be ignored or given the attention they deserve.

On August 20, 2021, we requested that you provide specific documents and information related to the U.S. evacuation of Kabul no later than September 3, 2021. That date passed without any production or response from you. Due to that, we had to take another avenue to try and obtain information.

On November 15, 2021, we requested that 34 named Department of State and USAID employees be made available to the Committee for transcribed interviews. No one has yet been made available, and that request has also been similarly ignored.

I am reattaching copies of prior request letters for your convenience. With respect to the questions and the subjects that they raise, it is imperative that you remind all Department employees and officials of their legal responsibilities to collect, retain, and preserve documents, communications, and other records in accordance with federal law, including the Federal Records Act and related regulations. This includes electronic messages involving official business that are sent using both official and personal accounts or devices, including records created using text messages, phone- based message applications, or encryption software. This request encompasses all information connected to oversight requests by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Minority any additional requests from Congress pertaining to Afghanistan that have been issued since August 01, 2021.

Specifically, this preservation request should be construed as an instruction to preserve all documents, communications, and other information, including electronic information and metadata, that is or may be potentially responsive to a future Congressional inquiry, request, investigation, or subpoena. For purposes of this request, “preserve” means securing and maintaining the integrity of all relevant documents, communications, and other information, including electronic information and metadata, by taking necessary steps to prevent the partial or full destruction, alteration, testing, deletion, shredding, incineration, wiping, relocation, migration, theft, mutation, or negligent or reckless handling that could render the information incomplete or inaccessible. This includes preserving all compilations of documents that have already been gathered in response to requests, even if copies of individual documents may still exist elsewhere in the agency.

Please note, we plan to request further documents regarding specific and troubling activities that have come to the Minority’s attention. This may also necessitate additional transcribed interview requests.

Finally, at the closed, classified Afghanistan briefing on June 15, 2022, we requested the Department of State provide to us the texts of the five unclassified opening statements delivered at that briefing. We repeated that request on June 21, 2022 but have not yet received those unclassified documents. Please provide them as soon as possible.

I respectfully urge your prompt attention to these increasingly delinquent matters.