The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee has threatened to hold Secretary of State Antony Blinken in contempt of Congress if he does not release a classified cable allegedly warning that Kabul could collapse shortly after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. in August 2021.

The letter escalates a months-long standoff between the House committee and the Biden administration, which has so far been unwilling to turn the document over to Congress. Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, released a May 5 letter Monday demanding that the department provide Congress with an unredacted version of the July 13, 2021 cable and the official State Department response.

McCaul threatened Blinken with contempt of Congress and possible civil enforcement proceedings if he does not comply with the committee’s request by 6:00 pm on May 11 or provide a legal basis for withholding the document.

«The dissent cable and official response are critical and material to the Committee’s investigation into the catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan,» McCaul wrote in his letter.

Employees of the Department of State may use the «dissidence channel» to communicate dissenting foreign policy views with senior officials. A Wall Street Journal article He said the cable warned that the Taliban could take control of Kabul soon after US troops withdrew from Afghanistan.

In late March, the committee issued a subpoena to Blinken via cable. On April 27, the State Department briefed the committee on the contents of the cable and its official response. The department also provided Congress with a one-page summary of the dissent cable, as well as a summary of the official response that came in just under a page, according to McCaul’s letter. The letter adds that the actual cable is four pages long.

«It is inherently problematic for the Department, which is the subject of the Committee’s investigation, to be allowed to withhold key material evidence and substitute its own abbreviated characterizations of that evidence for the original documents,» McCaul wrote in his letter.

He claimed that the State Department officials who conducted the briefing were «unwilling or unable» to answer several of the committee’s questions on the subject.

In a statement, a State Department spokesperson said the committee’s actions were «unnecessary and unproductive» as the panel had received a classified report and summary from the cable.

“We will continue to respond to appropriate oversight inquiries and provide Congress with the information it needs to do its job while protecting the ability of State Department employees to do theirs,” the spokesperson said.

The administration has previously expressed concern that the release of the cable could compromise the identity of the signatories to the cable.

The cable is part of McCaul’s investigation into the withdrawal from Afghanistan, in which 13 US servicemen were killed at the Kabul airport. Last month, the Biden administration released a summary of its assessment of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, largely blaming the Trump administration for the chaos that unfolded.

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