McCaul threatens to hold Blinken in contempt of Congress over withheld Afghanistan cables

The US Congress’s House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, Michael McCaul, today sent a letter to Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, threatening to hold him in contempt of Congress if he does not turn over diplomatic cables related to the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, The Hill reports.

The cables, which were sent in July 2021, reportedly warned of the potential collapse of the Afghan government and the Taliban’s imminent takeover of the country.

McCaul has been seeking the release of the cables since last year, but the State Department has so far refused to comply with his requests.

In his letter, McCaul argued that the cables are “key to understanding the Biden administration’s policies on the withdrawal and why the exit went how it did.” He also said that the State Department’s refusal to release the cables is a “dereliction of duty” and a “threat to the integrity of our government.”

“Should you fail to comply, the Committee is prepared to take the necessary steps to enforce its subpoena, including holding you in contempt of Congress and/or initiating a civil enforcement proceeding,” he wrote.

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“The American people deserve to know what happened in Afghanistan,” McCaul said in a statement. “The Biden administration’s refusal to release these cables is an affront to our democracy and a betrayal of the American people.”

McCaul has previously accused the Biden administration of “wilful failure” on Afghanistan.

The State Department has called McCaul’s threat as “unnecessary and unproductive.”

“It’s unfortunate that despite having received a classified briefing on the dissent channel cable as well as a written summary that the House Foreign Affairs Committee continues to pursue this unnecessary and unproductive action,” the spokesperson said. “Nevertheless, we will continue to respond to appropriate oversight inquiries and provide Congress the information it needs to do its job while protecting the ability of State Department employees to do theirs.”

The US government has been under sustained criticisms over its handling of withdrawal from Afghanistan.