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Fox News, June 6, 2023

“Embarrassing” dissent cable shows Biden “allowed” Afghanistan to collapse: Rep Issa

“There was no expectation by the State Department that there would be sustainability” in Afghanistan: Issa

By Jessica Chasmar

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. Kabul airport in Aug.2021

EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., is slamming the Afghanistan dissent cable to which Secretary of State Antony Blinken allowed congressional access Tuesday as "embarrassing" and saying that it debunks the Biden administration's narrative that it was caught off guard by the country's swift collapse in 2021.

Issa, who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Fox News Digital that he was the first committee member to view the dissent channel cable from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and Washington's response.

The State Department’s "dissent channel" allows for contrary views to be expressed by officials. The document, signed by 23 staffers and diplomats, warned about the possibility of a rapid Taliban advance as the U.S. left the country, which President Joe Biden and other top officials downplayed at the time.

"What we saw was their prediction, with great accuracy, of exactly what was going to happen and what the outcome would be if they did not change their directions," the congressman said. "We saw a response from the office of the State Department saying, ‘We hear you, and we agree, basically, we don't take it lightly.’ And then, obviously, we know what they did and didn't do, which was totally insufficient for the warning that was given."

"They redacted the specific names, but we now know that many of them were senior executive surrogates, meaning people that are paid at the highest level in the State Department," he continued. "They knew and understood that there was no way that the Afghan military was going to defend successfully. They did not disagree with that, and as a result, they knew that Kabul would fall within weeks, that the Taliban would do what they have done, which is to continue to kill and persecute individuals, and they allowed it to happen."

“...they [the US State Department] knew that Kabul would fall within weeks, that the Taliban would do what they have done, which is to continue to kill and persecute individuals, and they allowed it to happen.”
Rep. Darrell Issa, Jun. 6, 2023

Issa said the cable also revealed that "there was no expectation by the State Department that there would be sustainability" in the region and knew that the billions of dollars of U.S. military equipment that was left behind was going to fall into the Taliban's hands.

Issa said the cable went out on July 13, 2021, the response came back a week later on July 20, and Kabul officially fell weeks later on Aug. 15.

"Every prediction came through, including the quick collapse of the Afghan army," he said.

Issa said his next course of action is trying to get the document declassified so that the families of the 13 U.S. service members who were killed during the chaotic withdrawal can get to the bottom of what happened.

"Redacting only a portion of a portion of a sentence takes this from a secret document to a confidential document, and confidential, quite frankly, in this case is even inappropriate," he said.

"This is classified because it's embarrassing," he added. "There’s absolutely no reason the American people shouldn't see it, and I will not rest until they do."

"The bottom line is nothing ends here," added Issa's communications director, Jonathan Wilcox.

"This obliterates the administration's big lie on Afghanistan – that this could not have been foretold, nobody could have seen this coming, nothing could have done to prevent it," he said.

"We know it was received. We know it wasn't followed," he continued. "Their personnel on the ground saw this, reported it, warned them and were ignored."

In a statement to Fox News Digital, the State Department accused Republicans of distorting the truth.

"We strongly disagree with the characterizations from some Members of Congress on the contents of the Afghanistan dissent cable," a spokesperson said. "As Secretary Blinken previously stated in public testimony before Congress, the cable did not suggest the Afghan government and security forces were going to collapse prior to our departure. As the Secretary also said publicly, the Department agreed with the concerns raised in the cable, and in fact, a number of the recommendations the cable made were already in motion. The Secretary personally read and oversaw a response to the dissent cable, and its contents were factored into his thinking."

"Taking the step of allowing Members of Congress to view the cable, despite the risk that it compromises the purpose of the Dissent Channel, was an extraordinary accommodation and it’s disappointing some Members are choosing to distort the content of the confidential cable," the spokesperson added.

The State Department referred Fox News Digital to Blinken's testimony in September 2021 referring to the cable.

"With regard to the so-called dissent channel cable, it's something I'm immensely proud of," he said at the time. "It's a tradition that we have and you're right, I read every such cable, I respond to it, I factor into it my own thinking and actions, and that cable did not predict the collapse of the government or security forces before our departure. It was very focused and rightly focused on the work we were doing to try to get Afghans at risk out of the country and pressing to speed up that effort."

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, had announced Monday that he had secured an agreement with Blinken that would allow all members of the committee a reasonable opportunity to view the cable.

In response, McCaul agreed it would be a satisfactory accommodation to his earlier subpoena and would take contempt off the table. This is the first time in U.S. history that a dissent channel cable has been provided to Congress.

"This is an unprecedented step forward in our committee’s investigation into the Afghanistan withdrawal," McCaul said Monday. "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."

McCaul had subpoenaed the document multiple times in the early months of this year, but Blinken failed to provide it, prompting McCaul to threaten to charge Blinken with contempt of Congress.

Biden’s decision to pull troops from Afghanistan faced widespread global backlash after Taliban insurgents retook the country in a matter of days on Aug. 15, 2021, essentially winning the war 20 years after their ouster by U.S.-led forces. Just a month earlier, Biden told Americans that the likelihood of a Taliban takeover was "highly unlikely."

On Aug. 18, 2021, three days after the Taliban seized the capital of Kabul and forced the U.S. Embassy there to evacuate, Biden told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that intelligence did not indicate the Afghan government would quickly collapse – despite reports stating that is exactly what the intelligence predicted. The president also falsely claimed that "no one's being killed" in Afghanistan despite reports at that time of at least seven deaths amid the chaos at Kabul's airport.

On Aug. 26, 2021, during the U.S. military's mass evacuation at the Kabul airport, suicide bombers killed 183 people, including 13 U.S. service members. The U.S. retaliated by launching two drone strikes against suspected ISIS-K terrorists, one of which ended up killing 10 Afghan civilians, including seven children.

Critics immediately demanded that heads roll for the Afghanistan debacle, with calls for the firings of Blinken, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, but no one was fired.

Despite telling Americans after Afghanistan’s fall that "the buck stops with me," Biden repeatedly blamed former President Donald Trump and the Afghan military for the country’s swift collapse. While Biden admitted that the Taliban’s takeover had caught the U.S. off guard, he has insisted he made the right decision in ending the war and has declined to fire a single official over the pullout.

However, critics have often compared the withdrawal to the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War and have said Biden’s foreign policy blunders have given the green light to authoritarian leaders to act aggressively across the globe.

For instance, two months after the Afghanistan withdrawal, Russian President Vladimir Putin renewed a major buildup of troops near the Ukrainian border in October 2021, which eventually led to its invasion of the country in February 2022 that continues today.

Fox News’ Pete Kasperowicz and Anders Hagstrom contributed to this report.

Blast in Kabul airport kills over 180
A social media photo of the blast scene in Kabul airport during US evacuation from Afghanistan.

Category: Taliban/ISIS/Terrorism, US-NATO - Views: 2568



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