McCaul: State Continues to Mislead American Public on Failed Afghanistan WithdrawalPress Release
Washington, D.C.- House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Department of State’s ongoing failure to comply with the committee’s investigation into the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal and their efforts to mislead the American people into thinking the department is complying with the committee’s document requests. This comes in response to State Department spokesperson Ned Price’s comments inaccurately implying the department was fully cooperating with the investigation.
“The State Department continues to obstruct my committee’s investigation into the Afghanistan withdrawal and we will not tolerate it. The American people deserve answers on the catastrophic Afghanistan withdrawal, as illustrated by last week’s powerful testimony. The committee has identified three specific priority items, which the department could easily produce today, but has failed to do so. The department must produce the Dissent Channel cable and response, Ambassador Smith’s after-action report, and U.S. Embassy Kabul’s Emergency Action Plans without further delay. This withdrawal is a stain on this administration’s reputation and the department’s efforts to hide their lack of transparency is another reason we must get answers.”
The U.S. Department of State is misleading the public about its response to Congress on the Afghanistan withdrawal just as it misled the public on the events themselves.
The committee sent a comprehensive document request letter on January 12, 2023, with a response deadline of January 26, 2023. Many of the requests from this letter date back to August 2021 – more than 18 months ago.
To date the department has only provided two small productions:
- On January 26, 2023 State produced 218 pages of previously released FOIA’d documents. Many included significant redactions with no explanation, including even redactions of prepared responses for Q&A – information the department was prepared to provide to the public at the time.
- 88 pages consisted of the U.S. Institute of Peace Afghanistan Study Group Report, a document originally published in February 2021.
On January 30, 2023, committee staff sent the department a list of initial priority items, that identified three specific items which could easily be produced and requested they be provided by February 7, 2023: The July 2021 Dissent Channel cable and response, Ambassador Dan Smith’s after-action report, and two iterations of U.S. Embassy Kabul’s Emergency Action Plan.
On February 10, 2023, the department produced 18 pages of opening statements from a June 15, 2022 briefing. These statements were requested at the briefing itself and repeatedly since. They should have been provided in June 2022, not eight months later.
On February 14, 2023, committee staff met with state department officials regarding the status of these requests but the committee has yet to receive any new documents or information since.
On March 3, 2023, Chairman McCaul wrote to Secretary Blinken regarding the department’s failure to comply with committee requests and demanded immediate production of the three priority items noted above.
On March 8, 2023, Chairman McCaul held a hearing examining the administration’s disastrous emergency evacuation from Afghanistan.
On March 12, 2023, Chairman McCaul stated that he is prepared to issue a subpoena in the event the State Department fails to cooperate with the committee’s document request.