Republican California Rep. Darrell Issa questioned Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the Biden administration’s public claims that Afghanistan would not fall to the Taliban.
“You received an urgent dissent memo from 23 U.S. embassy personnel in Kabul, warning at the advances of the Taliban and the rapid collapse of Afghanistan,” Issa said, referencing an Aug. 19 Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report on a memo the embassy workers reportedly sent July 13. The congressman also noted Biden’s July 8 comment that a Taliban takeover was “highly unlikely,” juxtaposing it with the terror group’s July 9 claim that it controlled 85% of the country.
“You knew that a major portion of people in the embassy believed that they were going to quickly be overrun,” Issa said, noting that State Department spokesman Ned Price told WSJ that Blinken “reads every dissent and reviews every reply.”
“The question really is, how do we regain confidence in the State Department and its spokespeople, yourself included, and the president, if in fact, we can not square what we receive, members of Congress, both publicly and privately, that indicate some of those statements I just read, including ones by the president are not supported by the facts?” Issa asked. (RELATED: White House Messaging On Afghanistan Gets A Massive And Rapid Makeover)
Blinken answered that he was “grateful” for the memo.
“With regard to the so-called dissent channel cable, it is something I am proud of. It is a tradition we have. And you’re right, I read every such cable, I respond to it, and I factor it into my thinking and actions. That cable did not predict the collapse of the government security forces before our departure. It was 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,” Blinken responded.
“As it happens, a number of things suggested in that very important cable were things that we were in the process of doing. The next day, I think the cable came in on the 13th of July, on the 14th, we launched Operation Allies Refuge which had been in training for some time as well as the 24/7 task force to help those in the SIV [Special Immigrant Visa] program to get them out and even to relocate them, which is not part of the program. So that was an important cable. I‘m grateful for it and grateful that we have a process at the State Department where people can clearly express their views and differences on policy or recommendations on policy. That is usually important.”