The House Foreign Affairs Committee chair, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, on Thursday pushed back on Secretary of State Antony Blinken over his explanation for why his department couldn't comply with a subpoena.
During a hearing, McCaul held up a sheet of paper he said was a subpoena for a dissent cable that just under a dozen U.S. Embassy diplomats in Kabul wrote in July, 2021, warning of an Afghan government collapse following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Blinken said that his department could not release the physical copy of that cable in order to keep secure the Dissent Channel, which allows diplomats to freely raise concerns about foreign policy.
"It is vital to me that we preserve the integrity of that process and of that channel, that we not take any steps that could have a chilling effect on the willingness of others to come forward in the future to express dissenting views on the policies that are being pursued," Blinken said, according to The Hill.
However, McCaul argued that releasing the cable would not harm the channel's integrity or dissuade people from using it in the future.
"Your department cited then-Secretary Henry Kissinger's refusal to produce a dissent cable to Congress in the 1970s as a precedent. I would argue [you] do not have an executive privilege on this cable," he said.
He later said the panel had contacted the ambassador who wrote a dissent cable that Kissinger withheld from Congress and said, "Ambassador Boyatt is emphatic about the need for the State Department to produce dissent channel cables."
McCaul added: "He says that any claim [provided by the State Department] to Congress, that would have a 'chilling effect,' as your staff has claimed, is, and I quote him directly, '[expletive].' Not my words, it's the ambassador."
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