U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today released the following statement ahead of the one-year anniversary of the ignored July 13, 2021, State Department dissent cable that warned of the Taliban’s ability to quickly retake territory and potentially seize Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.
“This is a dark anniversary for our nation and for Afghanistan. One year ago, a State Department dissent cable reportedly warned the Biden administration of the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, including the growing vulnerability that Kabul could quickly fall to the Taliban,” said Thune and Risch. “While the tragic evacuation, which tarnished America’s credibility with our partners and allies, has faded from front-page headlines, we are committed to holding the Biden administration accountable for its failure of duty that allowed for a quick Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and a botched withdrawal that left hundreds of Americans and tens of thousands of Afghan partners behind.”
In February, Thune and Risch introduced legislation that would require the State Department to provide Congress with a classified version of the dissent cable, removing any personally identifiable information of the senders. The bill would also require the State Department to release a public, unclassified version of the cable.
The July 13, 2021 internal dissent cable reportedly warned the Biden administration of the mounting deterioration of Afghanistan’s security and the need to immediately begin evacuations. Regrettably, it was apparently met with inaction, evidenced by the National Security Council Deputies Committee’s decision to delay its first meeting to discuss evacuating Afghanistan until a full month after the dissent cable was sent. The flagrant shortcomings of the Biden administration’s management of the United States’ exit from Afghanistan are further detailed in Ranking Member Risch’s report entitled “Left Behind: A Brief Assessment of the Biden Administration’s Strategic Failures during the Afghanistan Evacuation” and investigations conducted by U.S. Central Command.
According to the State Department, the dissent channel “is a serious policy channel reserved only for consideration of responsible dissenting and alternative views on substantive foreign policy issues that cannot be communicated in a full and timely manner through regular operating channels or procedures,” which underscores the urgent nature of the warnings sent by U.S. diplomats. The State Department cable addressed by this legislation was first reported on August 19, 2021.