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US lawmakers issue warning to State Department

House representatives vow compulsory measures if they are not given access to information on the hasty Afghanistan withdrawal

The US Department of State must comply with Congress’ requests to provide materials on the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan or face a compulsory process, the new Republican chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee has said in a letter.

Representative Michael McCaul demanded a laundry list of documents and answers to specific questions from Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The ten-page letter dated Thursday reiterates his interests in the materials and touts his new authority as head of the oversight body in the GOP-majority chamber. 

He called previous denials of his requests by the administration of President Joe Biden “absurd and disgraceful,” and vowed that the committee “will use the authorities available to it to enforce” the release.

The questions he posed cover details of the department’s assessments of the potential ramifications of pulling NATO troops out of Afghanistan, the process itself, and the state of the country in the aftermath. He also asked for an account of Washington’s contact with the Taliban, which retook control of Afghanistan amid the US-led withdrawal.

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The demands follow McCaul’s visit on Wednesday to Foggy Bottom in his new capacity. State Department spokesman Ned Price called the lawmaker’s meeting with Blinken and other employees “truly constructive,” but declined to comment on his interest in Afghanistan.

Blinken “believes deeply” in winning bipartisan support in Congress, Price told journalists during a daily briefing. The legislative body has the important functions of authorization, appropriation, and oversight, he added, and the people at the State Department “believe in the utility, in the necessity of each of those functions.”

The US and its allies pulled out of Afghanistan in August 2021, after two decades of military presence. NATO invaded the country in 2001 and toppled the Taliban government, citing its refusal to capture and hand over Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.

January 13, 2023 at 04:41PM

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