Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, told Newsmax on Thursday the State Department has no standing to claim executive privilege for withholding a dissent channel cable in which 23 diplomats at the U.S. embassy in Kabul disagreed with the Biden administration's plan to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2021.
"There's no executive privilege here," McCaul, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told "The Record With Greta Van Susteren." "It's just the practice of the department."
The chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan resulted in a suicide bombing that killed 13 U.S. service members at Kabul's airport. Many Afghans who worked with the U.S. military against the Taliban were left behind, and the U.S. also left behind an estimated $7 billion in military equipment.
During testimony Thursday in front of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, "This tradition of having a dissent channel is one that's cherished in the department and goes back decades. It's a unique way for anyone in the department to speak to truth to power as they see it without fear or favor."
Blinken said it would have a chilling effect if such cables were turned over to the committee. The State Department referenced a dissent cable former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger refused to turn over to Congress in the 1970s as a basis for withholding the one on Afghanistan.
McCaul said he talked to the author of that cable, Thomas Boyatt, a former ambassador to Colombia and Burkina Faso, who told him in a statement the State Department's claim that turning over the cable would have a chilling effect is "[expletive]."
"[Boyatt] goes on to say that Congress and the American people deserve to know the truth," McCaul said. "And we do. Twenty-three embassy employees were sending a very extraordinary dissenting cable disagreeing with the policy of the administration.
"These are the employees on the ground and Kabul, not the bureaucrats sitting in Washington. And I think we need to see that for the veterans, for the gold star mothers."
McCaul said he is giving the State Department until the close of business Monday to release the cable. If it misses the deadline, he said he will issue a subpoena.
"It is a classified document, and I've requested to see it in camera in a classified space so I can actually read the document without redactions to see what their opinions were," McCaul said. "... I think the American people deserve to know what these opinions were, and I'm prepared to exercise my subpoena authority.
"I prefer to have it in a cooperative agreement. If they will allow me access to go into a classified setting to read the dissenting cables, I think we have this thing resolved."
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