House Republicans are launching their oversight into the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan two years ago with a demand for thousands of documents related to State Department discussions about operations and planning there.
Late Thursday evening, new House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken requesting he turn over 94 separate batches of memos, communications, emails and other records related to Afghanistan.
The list includes items such as “all State Department dissent channel messages from 2020 and 2021 relating to the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan,” “the total number of task forces involved with the Afghanistan withdrawal/evacuation and staff assigned to each task force,” and all documentation of equipment lost or left behind in the pull out.
McCaul in a statement said the long list is the accumulation of dozens of requests by Republican lawmakers in recent months that they say have been ignored by administration officials.
“The committee will use the authorities available to it to enforce these requests as necessary, including through a compulsory process,” he said. “[We] will pursue this investigation until all our questions are answered and all parties responsible are held accountable. We owe this to the American people, especially our service members and veterans.”
The request is the first of what is expected to be numerous oversight efforts from the Republican-controlled chamber in coming months. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Ala., has promised similar inquiries directed at the Defense Department.
Since the withdrawal of all U.S. troops and embassy personnel from Afghanistan in August 2021, Democratic lawmakers in the House and Senate have held several hearings and public inquiries into the decisions leading up to the departure.
But most of that work has been focused on the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan over nearly two decades, and not solely on the few months leading up to the end date. Republicans have charged that more information is needed on the missteps during that time period, particularly given the lives lost and allies left behind.
Eleven Marines, one Navy corpsman and one soldier were killed in the waning days of the military presence in Afghanistan after a suicide bomber attacked the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
McCaul said he expects all of the documentation to be delivered to his committee in the next two weeks. State Department officials did not immediately respond to the request.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.