Oversight Republicans seek testimony from Afghanistan watchdog

Oversight Republicans seek testimony from Afghanistan watchdog
© Greg Nash

Republicans on the House Oversight and Reform Committee are demanding a hearing to evaluate the chaotic exit from Afghanistan after securing a commitment to hear testimony from the inspector general tasked with reviewing U.S. military efforts in the country.

According to a letter obtained by The Hill, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko and all three inspectors general from the departments of Defense and State as well as the U.S. Agency for International Development have all agreed to appear before the committee.

The request to schedule a hearing comes after Republicans asked Sopko to declassify the annexes of the watchdog's most recent quarterly reports on the Afghanistan reconstruction.

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“​​These reports—particularly their classified annexes—present new information and valuable context regarding the security situation in Afghanistan,” Rep. James ComerJames (Jamie) R. ComerOvernight Health Care — Presented by Altria — Dip in COVID-19 cases offer possible sign of hope 'I was one of the lucky ones': Three Democrats recount their abortion stories to panel Hillicon Valley — Presented by Ericsson — Senators gear up for Facebook hearing MORE (R-Ky.), ranking member of the committee, wrote to Chairwoman Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn MaloneyHouse passes bill to expand workplace protections for nursing mothers House Oversight Democrats ask NFL for information from investigation into Washington Football Team New York City helicopter complaints skyrocket MORE (D-N.Y.).

“These IGs are willing to testify about their findings and provide unvarnished and balanced facts to the Committee. Therefore, we again request you convene a hearing of the full Committee as soon as possible.”

The Oversight Committee has yet to hold a hearing on the Afghanistan withdrawal, but on Sept. 10 it sent a letter to Sopko requesting he “conduct a review to examine the underlying causes that may have contributed to the rapid collapse last month of the government of Afghanistan and the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), any potential loss or compromise of U.S. reconstruction assistance resulting from the Taliban’s return to power, and the ramifications of the U.S. military and diplomatic withdrawal.”

Sopko also briefed the committee in late August, telling lawmakers the collapse of the Afghan government was the result of a “series of mistakes that were made” across multiple administrations, according to a release from committee Democrats.

Republicans on the panel have also requested an appearance from Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan Nearly 200 Americans want to leave Afghanistan, State Department tells Congress Syria's challenge to Tony Blinken's conscience MORE and Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan GOP lawmakers worry vaccine mandate will impact defense supply chain Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Navy probe reveals disastrous ship fire response MORE.