The inspector general’s office at the State Department is beginning several probes regarding the Biden administration’s final diplomatic actions in Afghanistan, reports said on Tuesday.
According to Fox News, the reports will hone in on the department’s Special Immigrant Visa program as well as Afghanis who have been processed for admission into the United States as refugees, the resettlement of Afghan refugees and visa recipients, as well as emergency evacuation of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Kabul, an Oct. 15 memo to Secretary of State Antony Blinken says.
Politico first reported the development; Fox News reportedly confirmed the probes.
Acting State Department IG Diana Shaw has told Congress that her office had begun “several oversight projects” tied to the chaotic, deadly military and diplomatic pullout from Afghanistan ahead of an Aug. 31 deadline, as Taliban fighters closed in on the capital city and took over most provincial capitals.
“Given the elevated interest in this work by Congress and the unique circumstances requiring coordination across the Inspector General community, I wanted to notify our committees of jurisdiction of this important work,” Shaw said in a letter that was sent to the heads of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, as well as the chambers’ respective intelligence panels.
When questioned about the content of the memo, IG spokesperson Ryan Holden confirmed the outline of the queries but pushed back on the idea that the probes technically meet the internal watchdog’s definition of what constitutes an “investigation.”
“State OIG notified its committees of jurisdiction today of planned projects in the areas you mention,” Holden told Politico. “This work will be conducted in coordination with other members of the IG community.
“However, it is inaccurate to say that these projects are investigations. We indicated to Congress that these projects will be reviews,” he continued.
The news outlet said that inspectors general at other federal agencies including the Defense Department and the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction are likely to launch their own probes as well.
The probes come amid heavy bipartisan criticism of the Biden administration for the manner in which the pullout was conducted. President Biden himself has been chastised, but so, too, have Pentagon leaders including Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley and U.S. Central Command head Marine Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie.
Biden ordered all U.S. forces out of the country by Aug. 31, a deadline seen as arbitrary by many members of Congress as well as impractical, given the likelihood that not all Americans and Afghan allies could be evacuated by then.
In addition, the president assured Americans that there was little chance the Taliban could quickly retake the country, a claim that turned out to be false.
Several retired military leaders have called for Milley and McKenzie, as well as others up the chain of command at the Pentagon, to resign.
“I think it’s a leadership failure in the White House, as well as in the State Department, as well as in the DOD,” Lt. Gen. (Ret.) William “Jerry” Boykin told Fox News the day after the deadline. “I think we need to recognize it as such. I think the president has been a miserable failure on this.”
Several Republicans have also called for Biden to be impeached for mishandling the evacuation after 13 U.S. military personnel were killed by a suicide bomber in the days leading up to the deadline, and for leaving Americans behind.
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