Republican legislators have launched an investigation into the chaotic United States military withdrawal from Afghanistan, which allowed an immediate takeover by the Taliban and led to scenes of thousands of desperate people storming Kabul airport, some clinging to departing US planes as they rolled down the runway.
Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Friday he had written to Secretary of State Antony Blinken requesting an array of records, from intelligence assessments to communications with the Taliban.
McCaul, a longstanding opposition member on the committee who became its chairman after the House flipped to Republican control at the start of the year, said it was “absurd and disgraceful” that US President Joe Biden’s administration “continues to withhold information related to the withdrawal”.
“In the event of continued noncompliance, the committee will use the authorities available to it to enforce these requests as necessary, including through a compulsory process,” he said.
Thirteen US soldiers were killed on August 26, 2021 in a bombing outside Kabul airport as the capital fell, with the government crumbling days later despite $2 trillion being pumped into Afghanistan over two decades by the US and NATO forces.
While Trump sealed the withdrawal with the Taliban, his Republican Party has roundly criticised Biden’s handling of the operation and promised hearings as part of a series of probes into his administration.
The scenes of desperate Afghans clinging to moving US military planes as they taxied on the runway at Kabul airport preceded a sharp drop in Biden’s approval ratings nine months after he was elected promising smooth, competent leadership after the pandemonium under his predecessor Donald Trump.
The State Department did not respond immediately to a request for comment on Friday but has said it has provided more than 150 briefings to members of Congress since the August 2021 withdrawal, according to US media.
Approximately 2,500 US troops died in what became the country’s longest war but Afghanistan was no longer a priority back home, with 50 percent of respondents in a Gallup poll conducted a year after the withdrawal saying the entire war was a mistake.