McCaul threatens contempt charges against Blinken over Afghanistan documents

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul has issued a stern warning to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, threatening to hold him in contempt of Congress if the State Department continues to withhold crucial documents related to the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021.

In a letter dated February 26, 2024, McCaul expressed his frustration over the department’s failure to provide interview documents that were instrumental in drafting their After-Action Review (AAR) of the withdrawal, which was marked by significant failures and chaos.

The AAR, an internal analysis by the State Department, drew on over 150 interviews conducted by Ambassador Daniel Smith and his team, offering firsthand accounts of the withdrawal’s failures. McCaul’s office highlighted the importance of these documents for the committee’s investigation and for informing potential legislative reforms.

Despite previous commitments to cooperate and a series of requests dating back to January 2023, the State Department has largely failed to comply, only producing a fraction of the requested material, much of which were duplicates. McCaul’s letter outlined a detailed timeline of the committee’s efforts to obtain the AAR files and the department’s consistent failure to negotiate in good faith.

The chairman’s letter to Blinken sets a final deadline of March 6, 2024, for the production of the priority AAR files, warning that failure to comply will lead the committee to pursue contempt of Congress charges. This escalation highlights the ongoing tension between Congress and the State Department over access to documents related to one of the most controversial moments of recent U.S. foreign policy.