State Department relents, will allow Congress to review Afghanistan 'dissent cable'

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- Amid intensifying pressure from House Republicans, the State Department said Wednesday it will allow select members of Congress to review a classified communication sent by American diplomats during the final days of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, marking a significant reversal in the Biden administration's position.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Mike McCaul, R-Texas, and other Republicans on the panel have been engaged in a monthslong pursuit of the document that sources say was sent in July 2021 and warned Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the government of Afghanistan was at risk of collapse at the hands of the Taliban.

McCaul initially issued several requests for the document, and then a subpoena in March. When the State Department refused to comply, he threatened to hold Blinken in contempt of Congress, going as far as to schedule a hearing on the matter in the coming days.

On Wednesday, State Department Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said the department would send a letter on Monday offering McCaul and the committee's top Democrat, Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., an opportunity to privately review the document, known as a "dissent cable," and that only identifying information of department personnel involved would be redacted.

"Chairman McCaul himself has said this is what he is interested in," Patel said.

The State Department repeatedly declined to produce the cable, arguing the dissent channel needed to be protected to preserve its integrity and offering McCaul and other members of the committee a closed door briefing and a summary of the document instead.

Despite the administration's concession, Patel made it clear that the State Department still saw its previous disclosures as adequately meeting the department's needs.

"We believe that we have provided sufficient information through our classified briefing, through the written summary, and we believe these efforts already should have and would satisfied their request for information," he said.

ABC News reached out to the House Foreign Affairs Committee but did not immediately receive a response.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023 at 6:04PM by Shannon K. Crawford, ABC News Permalink