X

Blinken's Own Staffers Warned Him of Quick Afghan Collapse

State Department chief received internal document on July 13
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 20, 2021 8:05 AM CDT
Classified Cable Warned of Quick Afghan Collapse in July
Taliban fighters display their flag on patrol in Kabul, Afghanistan.   (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)

(Newser) – The White House says nobody anticipated that Afghanistan would fall so quickly. But the Wall Street Journal is out with a scoop about an internal State Department cable dated July 13 that warned things were about to get very bad in a hurry:

  • Warning: The cable, signed by 23 staffers, warned that Kabul would likely collapse quickly after the Aug. 31 troop withdrawal and urged the White House to immediately ramp up evacuations of Afghans who worked with the US. It was sent to Secretary of State Antony Blinken through the department's longstanding "dissent channel," and Blinken personally reviewed it, per the story.
  • Context: "The classified cable represents the clearest evidence yet that the administration had been warned by its own officials on the ground that the Taliban’s advance was imminent and Afghanistan’s military may be unable to stop it," writes Vivian Salama of the Journal.

story continues below

  • Context, II: The cable "casts perhaps the harshest light yet on the administration's performance," per the Politico Playbook.
  • What they said: In July, President Biden said it was "highly unlikely" the Taliban would be able to run roughshod over the country. On Wednesday, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that "there was nothing that I or anyone else saw that indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days," per Yahoo News. (The cable did not appear to suggest the collapse would happen before the withdrawal deadline of Aug. 31.)
  • Effects: It appears the White House did implement some recommendations contained in the cable, but apparently not aggressively enough. The Journal notes that an estimated 18,000 Afghans who have applied for a special visa remain stuck in Afghanistan.
  • Accountability: The House Foreign Affairs Committee has summoned Blinken to appear, and ranking Republican Michael McCaul said he wants a full readout of the cable, reports the Hill. "If these reports are true, it means this Administration also willfully ignored the pleas of their own people on the ground in Kabul and their warnings of how dire the situation truly was," McCaul said.
(Read more Afghanistan stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
X
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.

X