The State Department finally issued its official ‘what happened in Afghanistan’ report that mostly absolved it of responsibility while suppressing dissenting materials. Congress has been trying to get hold of those even while State keeps stonewalling. Now Congress is beginning to lose its patience.
McCaul signed the subpoena with a pen gifted by the family of U.S. marine Hunter Lopez — who was among 13 U.S. service members tragically killed in the Abbey Gate bombing. pic.twitter.com/lR8jA5jwtF
— House Foreign Affairs Committee Majority (@HouseForeignGOP) July 18, 2023
US House foreign affairs committee chairman Michael McCaul on Tuesday subpoenaed the State Department in a bid to obtain documents related to its Afghanistan withdrawal report, accusing President Joe Biden’s administration of “obstruction”.
Mr McCaul said in a statement that the subpoena was delivered directly to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday morning for the “Afghanistan AAR files” – the collection of underlying documents used to produce the State Department’s After-Action Review.
“The committee has been forced, by the department’s obstruction, to issue a subpoena,” Mr McCaul said.
Meanwhile, at the hearing on Afghanistan, military leaders testified that there was no plan. Family members of those lost in Afghanistan were present.
"By a nod of your head, yes or no, do you feel like this administration has taken ownership and accountability?" @RepEliCrane asks the families of victims of Biden's botched Afghanistan withdrawal.pic.twitter.com/fxDBwmh1lo
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) July 27, 2023
“There was very little intelligence to suggest the Biden administration’s plan would work and a mountain range of evidence to suggest the plan would fail,” retired Col. Seth Krummrich, former chief of staff for special operations at U.S. Central Command, testified on Thursday before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “The president’s decision to ignore the best military advice and execute an immediate military withdrawal was a shock and a rude awakening for all the planners.”
Another senior military leader, Command Sergeant Major Jacob Smith, warned State Department officials in the months leading up to September 2021 that Kabul International Airport—the eventual site of a terror bombing that killed 13 service members—was not equipped to handle a mass exodus of Americans. But the administration refused to shift the evacuation to the more secure Bagram Air Base, which had been shut down by the time of the withdrawal.
Bagram, Smith revealed, “had a completely secured airfield that would require a massive military offensive to overrun or breach.” Kabul airport, on the other hand, was surrounded by a city of 4.4 million residents and not even completely controlled by U.S. forces, presenting a host of security challenges.
Bagram also had “the mechanical capability to destroy sensitive equipment on an industrial scale in a short time,” while Kabul airport “did not,” according to Smith. If the State Department had chosen Bagram as the site of its evacuation, the military likely could have destroyed much of $7.2 billion in sensitive military equipment that was left behind and ultimately seized by the Taliban.
“I advised the embassy team against using” the Kabul airport, Smith said, noting that the State Department initially agreed with his assessment. However, officials back in Washington, D.C., ordered the base be shut down by early July 2021. “It is my understanding that those in [U.S.] embassy did not think that Taliban would advance to take Kabul.”
By August, a month before the full-scale evacuation effort, Kabul airport was left mostly undefended.
“An area once protected by hundreds of soldiers and contractors was now protected by 113 American soldiers,” Smith said, as the families of several soldiers killed in the September terrorist bombing wept behind him. “This was the only force left in Afghanistan.”
The State Department insisted on dispensing with the military’s role and maintaining a civilian diplomatic presence, fantasizing that some sort of Taliban-Government coalition would peacefully come together.
Was there a plan? Not so much.
Chair @RepMcCaul: "Did you ever see an [Afghanistan] evacuation plan?"
Col. Seth Krummrich (Ret.): "I did not." pic.twitter.com/iHmdi0zD3S
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) July 27, 2023
So you can see why Secretary of State Blinken’s only plan is obstruction and more obstruction.