McCaul orders Blinken to produce missing Afghanistan files

Photo: Reuters.

US House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul has issued a demand to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, urging the Department of State to comply with a key document request regarding the Afghanistan withdrawal.

In a letter sent on June 28, 2023, McCaul emphasized that the department must produce the missing Afghanistan After-Action Review (AAR) files by Friday, July 14, or face a subpoena.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee has been conducting an investigation into the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan by the Biden Administration. McCaul previously requested three specific priority items, including the AAR files, which have been outstanding since January 2023. While the State Department has produced two of the requested items, it has repeatedly failed to provide the AAR files within the committee’s deadlines.

McCaul’s letter to Blinken expressed frustration with the department’s continued noncompliance and warned of the initiation of compulsory process if the files are not produced by the extended deadline of July 14, 2023. The chairman highlighted the significance of the AAR files in informing potential legislation and budgetary decisions to prevent similar catastrophes in the future. These files are described as an electronic and paper collection of materials used by the review team to prepare its report.

In response to the committee’s concerns, the Department of State assured that it intends to produce the AAR files but requires additional time to do so. During a discussion with committee staff, the department indicated that it would need several additional weeks to fulfill the request. McCaul, while expressing disappointment that the files were not produced earlier, extended the deadline to July 14 as an accommodation.

The Afghanistan AAR files are considered crucial to the committee’s investigation, as they will shed light on the events leading up to the withdrawal and the Department of State’s plans and actions. The committee’s request for these documents in complete and unredacted form includes all underlying and source documents related to the AAR.

If the Department of State fails to produce the AAR files by the extended deadline, McCaul is prepared to proceed with a subpoena. The chairman views this request as a top priority and expects the department to treat it as such.

The committee’s ongoing investigation seeks to gain a comprehensive understanding of the Afghanistan withdrawal to inform future decision-making and prevent similar failures.