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Congress to get access to State dissent cable on Afghanistan

Jul 26, 2023

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) announced Monday that his panel will be able to view the dissent channel cable centered around the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan that he has been pushing for months.

The July 2021 State Department cable reportedly discussed concerns about the looming American pullout from the country, warning that the U.S.-backed government could fall.

McCaul had threatened to hold Secretary of State Antony Blinken in contempt last month if he did not provide him access to the diplomatic cable, which came from a confidential "dissent channel" that allowed State Department officials to discuss views that may be different from what the administration's policies.

"This is an unprecedented step forward in our committee's investigation into the Afghanistan withdrawal," McCaul said in a statement. "For the first time in history, the State Department has agreed to allow Congress to view a dissent channel cable. This cable contains first-hand information from Embassy Kabul employees who were on the ground prior to the collapse as well as Secretary Blinken's response to their concerns. I want to thank Secretary Blinken for negotiating with me in good faith on this."

The announcement said that McCaul agreed that the viewing of the cable would be a "satisfactory accommodation" to his subpoena.

Blinken had rejected previous attempts by McCaul to get the cable, arguing that the channel needed to remain confidential. However, State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said last month that they invited McCaul and Foreign Affairs ranking member Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) to view the cable.

"In our letter to the committee today, we will invite Chairman McCaul and ranking member Meeks (D-N.Y.) to view the dissent channel cable here at the State Department … with appropriate personal information redacted," Patel said at a press conference at the time. "It is our sincere hope that our offer here will sufficiently satisfy their request for information."

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