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Republicans push to hold Blinken in contempt for withholding Afghanistan withdrawal documents

By Mandy Donalds
|
March 1, 2024

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is poised to face a contempt hearing spearheaded by Republicans over withheld Afghanistan withdrawal documents.

Republicans in Congress are advancing with plans to charge Blinken with contempt for not providing documents related to the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

The move, led by chairman Michael McCaul of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, highlights the growing frustration among lawmakers with the administration's handling of the 2021 Afghanistan exit. The committee has scheduled a markup of the contempt articles for March 7, signaling a significant escalation in their investigation, as reported by the Daily Mail.

Markup scheduled by House Foreign Affairs Committee

McCaul expressed his concerns, noting that despite Blinken's busy schedule, the repeated requests for the Afghanistan After-Action Review (AAR) team's interview notes have remained unfulfilled for almost a year.

The chairman's efforts to hold Blinken accountable underline the committee's determination to uncover the details of the chaotic withdrawal process.

The potential contempt charge against Blinken would mark a historic first for a U.S. secretary of State. This development comes after McCaul's renewed threats of legal action against Blinken for obstructing Congress' requests for crucial documents. The chairman's insistence on obtaining the AAR files stems from a desire to understand the errors made during the withdrawal and to prevent similar mistakes in the future.

Historic implications of potential contempt charge

McCaul's request focuses on AAR files from key individuals involved in the withdrawal, aiming to complete the committee's investigation and inform future legislation.

Despite efforts to compromise, McCaul accuses the State Department of not negotiating in good faith, highlighting the ongoing struggle to access primary source documents essential for legislative purposes. The standoff between the committee and the department underscores the complexity of the issue and the importance of transparency in government actions.

McCaul wrote:

It is appalling that over two years after the deadly and chaotic withdrawal, the Department continues to choose politics over policy.

The tension between McCaul and the State Department has been building for months, with the chairman first subpoenaing the department for the AAR documents in July 2023. Despite a phone call in August where Blinken personally promised to provide the requested information, the committee's patience has waned due to the lack of substantial response.

Continued accountability efforts for Afghanistan withdrawal

Last year, the committee postponed a separate contempt charge against Blinken after he agreed to allow leadership to view a classified cable warning of the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan.

The ongoing efforts to hold the Biden administration accountable for the hasty exit, which resulted in numerous casualties, reflect the deep-seated concerns about the decision-making processes leading up to the withdrawal.

The 87-page report released by the State Department last July criticized the administration's preparation for Afghanistan's rapid collapse, pointing to leadership pitfalls and a lack of clear responsibility.

This report, alongside the committee's investigations, highlights the need for a thorough understanding of the events and decisions that led to the chaotic evacuation from Kabul.

The quest for transparency and accountability

In light of the contentious back and forth, the family members of the U.S. troops killed during the withdrawal continue to seek answers, emphasizing the personal toll of the administration's actions.

The pursuit of the AAR documents by Republicans not only seeks to address these concerns but also aims to ensure that such catastrophic mistakes are not repeated.

The investigation into the Afghanistan withdrawal serves as a crucial examination of U.S. foreign policy and military strategy. By pushing for access to vital documents and holding key officials accountable, lawmakers hope to shed light on the decisions that led to the tumultuous exit and to improve the nation's approach to international engagements and conflict resolutions in the future.

Conclusion

  • Republicans are moving forward with contempt charges against Secretary of State Antony Blinken over withheld Afghanistan withdrawal documents.
  • The House Foreign Affairs Committee has scheduled a markup of the contempt articles for March 7.
  • The investigation aims to uncover the details of the chaotic withdrawal and prevent similar mistakes in the future.
  • The potential contempt charge against Blinken would be historic for a U.S. secretary of state.
  • The ongoing struggle to access primary source documents highlights the importance of transparency in government actions.
  • Efforts to hold the Biden administration accountable for the hasty exit from Afghanistan continue amid demands for answers from the families of U.S. troops killed during the withdrawal.