National Security

Top Foreign Affairs Republican seeks declassification of Afghan intel

The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee is asking the Biden administration to declassify and release its intelligence on Afghanistan after arguing they were caught off guard by the rapid fall of Kabul.

Multiple members of the administration have said their intelligence did not predict that the Taliban would complete their takeover of the country so quickly as the U.S. drew down its forces.

"It is imperative that Congress be given access to any and all reports and underlying intelligence products that led to the assessments so we may better understand how the situation deteriorated so quickly and why the Administration made the decisions they did regarding the disastrous evacuation," ranking member Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) wrote in a letter to the State Department, Department of Defense, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

Officials have offered a conflicting picture of the intelligence surrounding Afghanistan - something likely due in part to varying assessments from a number of agencies with differing degrees of confidence.

The Wall Street Journal in June reported that intelligence assessments showed the Afghan government could collapse as soon as six months after the U.S. withdrawal.

"There was nothing that I or anyone else saw that indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days," Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley told reporters during a Pentagon briefing in August.

Milley said that intelligence showed "multiple scenarios were possible," including a rapid Taliban takeover over the course of weeks or months or years.

But McCaul said the administration should declassify the content while protecting sources and methods.

"I am interested to see exactly how these products were reflected in the Biden Administration's contingency and worst-case scenario planning," he said.

"The administration owes the public transparency on the reports and assessments that informed the President's April 14 withdrawal decision and ultimately lead to abandoning hundreds of Americans, thousands of U.S. legal permanent residents, and tens of thousands of Special Immigrant Visa applicants and other Afghans at risk," he wrote, referring to the SIV category for those who assisted the military.

Neither the State Department, Pentagon, or ODNI immediately responded to request for comment.

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