Photo: Radio Pakistan

McCaul Threatens Blinken with Contempt Charges Over Afghanistan Withdrawal Documents

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN – The chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul, has threatened the country’s Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, with potential “contempt of Congress” if the State Department continues to withhold documents related to the Biden administration’s “deadly and chaotic” withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021.

In a letter dated Monday, February 26, Mr. McCaul criticized the US State Department for its “significant failure” to provide the crucial interview documents, which were requested by the committee multiple times. Mr. McCaul says these documents serve as primary sources offering first-hand accounts of the tragedy that unfolded in Afghanistan.

“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,” wrote McCaul.

“The Committee has pursued the AAR team’s interview notes in good faith and with every effort to compromise. The Department has not negotiated in good faith and has failed to both comply with the Committee’s July 2023 subpoena and fulfill your August 11 personal commitment to cooperate with this investigation,” he added.

The Republican-led Congress has constantly criticized the Biden Administration for its handling of Afghanistan, especially the chaotic withdrawal of troops in August 2021 that led to the return of the Taliban to power.

During the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, a suicide bombing at Kabul Airport killed 13 US service members and 170 Afghan civilians, an attack later claimed by the Islamic State – Khorasan Province (IS-KP).

Mr. McCaul has repeatedly criticized the Biden administration’s handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, labeling it as a “mistake of epic proportions” and accusing the administration of failing to have a contingency plan in place.

“There are many mistakes made in 20 years but the ultimate mistake ended 20 years of blood and treasure with now the Taliban in charge, raising their flag over our embassy, taking seven billion dollars of our weapons, leaving the women   under Sharia law now where they can’t even go outside,” he said.

The US Lawmakers argue that contrary to claims by the US State Department, the Taliban continue to maintain ties with regional and international terrorist organizations, violate human rights at mass scales, and misuse American-provided humanitarian aid.

The Biden administration, however, has thus far defended its decision as “the right thing to do.” Earlier, the US Secretary of State described the withdrawal as “an incredibly difficult” decision but also the right one.

“For the first time in 20 years, we don’t have another generation of young Americans going to fight and die in Afghanistan,” Blinken stated.

In the letter, McCaul stated that it is appalling that over two years after the deadly and chaotic withdrawal, the Department continues to choose politics over policy.

“For these reasons, the Committee intends to pursue holding you in contempt of Congress if you fail to produce the AAR team’s interview notes by March 6, 2024,” he said.