By Humeyra Pamuk and Patricia Zengerle
WASHINGTON (RockedBuzz via Reuters) – The US State Department said on Wednesday that two senior members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee can view a redacted version of a classified cable on the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, requested by the Republican chairman of the commission.
The chairman, Rep. Michael McCaul, has scheduled a committee meeting next week to consider a charge of contempt of Congress against Secretary of State Antony Blinken for his refusal to release the cable, sent by US diplomats via the “channel of dissent” of the department. The channel allows State Department officials to relay concerns to supervisors.
The State Department will allow McCaul and the committee’s ranking Democrat, Gregory Meeks, to view a redacted version to protect the identities of those using the dissent channel, Deputy Speaker Vedant Patel told reporters.
In an interview with CNN, McCaul said the State Department’s offer to make the cables available was “a really significant step forward.” He said if the department agreed to allow the entire committee to see the telegrams “then I think we’ve settled a dispute in court.”
In a letter to McCaul, the department said it would make the material available as soon as possible.
“The Department has engaged extensively with the Committee to respond to your requests. We have provided numerous briefings, thousands of pages of documents and public testimony from senior Department leaders,” the letter reads, adding that it was important to protect dissent over the channel. .
“The accommodations the Department has provided to date are extraordinary and, as stated in our previous correspondence, already create a serious risk of chilling both the future use and future lead in the cables of Dissent Channel,” the letter said.
McCaul has launched an investigation into the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Republicans – and some Democrats – say there has never been a full account of the chaotic operation, in which 13 US servicemen were killed at Kabul airport.
McCaul searched for months for a “channel of dissent” cable sent in July 2021 that a Wall Street Journal article in August 2021 said warned senior officials of the potential collapse of Kabul soon after the withdrawal of US troops.
(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk, Patricia Zengerle and Simon Lewis; Editing by Alistair Bell, Lisa Shumaker and Marguerita Choy)