McCaul subpoenas Blinken over Kabul dissent cable

US House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul has signed a subpoena that will be delivered to State Secretary Antony Blinken “first thing Tuesday morning” for documents related to the August 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan.

McCaul had given Blinken until close of business Monday to produce the documents, specifically a July 2021 Dissent Channel cable signed by 23 State Department officials who had been working in the Kabul Embassy at the time, along with Blinken’s response to the cable.

According to a statement issued by the committee late Monday, McCaul said: “We have made multiple good faith attempts to find common ground so we could see this critical piece of information. Unfortunately, Secretary Blinken has refused to provide the dissent cable and his response to the cable, forcing me to issue my first subpoena as chairman of this committee. The American people deserve answers as to how this tragedy unfolded, and why 13 U.S. service members lost their lives. We expect the State Department to follow the law and comply with this subpoena in good faith.”

Citing reports by The Wall Street Journal, the House committee said in the statement that the requested dissent cable warned the administration was not properly prepared for President Joe Biden’s decision to unilaterally withdraw all U.S. troops from the country. 

“In an attempt to find a middle ground, Chairman McCaul offered to review the document in camera, rather than having it physically delivered to the committee. He also offered to allow the State Department to redact the names of the signers to protect their privacy. But even after making those reasonable concessions, the State Department refused to provide the documents,” the House committee statement read.

The committee stated that the dissent cable and Blinken’s response are key documents because they reveal exactly what first-hand information the State Department’s employees, who were on the ground, provided to Blinken about a month prior to evacuation, as well as the secretary’s response.

The dissent cable was first requested in August 2021 by then-chairman Gregory Weldon Meeks and requested separately by then-Ranking Member McCaul. According to the committee, the State Department has known the committee has wanted the dissent cable for more than 18 months. That request was reiterated on January 12, 2023 and again on January 30, 2023 by McCaul.Last week, at a committee hearing, McCaul threatened Blinken, who was present, with a subpoena and gave him a Monday deadline.